A WORLD WITHOUT SUMMER

The Year Without Summer – that’s what they called 1816. Pre-Industrial Europe was in the middle of recovering from the long, lingering impact of the Napoleonic Wars and was then hit by an agricultural disaster, one that was mirrored across parts of North America and China. In Ireland, failed crops sparked famine; in Germany, they sparked riots. Switzerland slid into a deep-freeze whilst India was plunged into an outbreak of cholera as the period known retrospectively as ‘The Little Ice Age’ climaxed in catastrophic fashion. Most of the blame was laid at the door of Mount Tambora in the Dutch East Indies, a dormant volcano that had suddenly sprung into life after a thousand years with the largest observed eruption in recorded history. Lava continued to sport forth for more than eighteen months, dispersing ash into the atmosphere that caused severe climate change, reducing global temperatures and resulting in upwards of an estimated 10,000 deaths worldwide.

The distorted colours of the sulphuric skies that Tambora’s eruption caused are believed to have inspired the distinctive smudgy shades of JMW Turner’s paintings as well as creating the apocalyptic ambience that provoked 18-year-old Mary Shelley into penning ‘Frankenstein’ when holidaying with Percy Bysshe and Lord Byron on the gloomy fringes of Lake Geneva that non-summer. Whilst such a baleful location may have suited Gothic sensibilities, no doubt there were many who perceived the dramatic alteration in the climate as a sign of God’s displeasure with mankind. Mind you, God generally lets mankind get away with a hell of a lot before he can be arsed intervening.

200 years on from that remarkable climatic event, humble little me wrote a post called ‘Something in the Air’; take a look – it’s still there. In it, I commented on a pessimistic malaise that seemed to have settled upon the world, something that was manifested via a variety of dismal news stories, the impact of which was possibly exacerbated by the instant ping of social media. Coupled with very personal crises friends of mine were simultaneously undergoing at the time of writing, it felt as though the external and internal were bleeding into one overwhelming weight on the shoulders of numerous generations inhabiting the here and now. A year or so on from that particular post, it would be nice to come to the conclusion that this was a piece of reportage chronicling a moment of madness, a missive from the dark that preceded a dawn we happily reside in as 2017 careers towards its climax. Oops!

In a couple of days, this blog will have been in existence for two years. As a writer, I couldn’t have wished for more eventful times to have been documenting on a near-daily basis. Since the inaugural post on 6 December 2015, I’ve been able to comment upon the rise of Donald Trump and the Alt-Right as well as his loud opponents on the left and those in North Korea. When I began, we were barely six months into a Conservative Government released from the constricting shackles of Coalition, yet six months into the blog David Cameron had lost an ill-advised gamble (and his job) by leading the country into a chaotic state of uncertainty it has yet to recover from. One more indecisive General Election and one more ineffective Prime Minister later, Brexit remains the ultimate barometer of division as neither Remainer/Remoaner nor Brexiteer are happy with what Government is doing in their name. And this Whitehall farce seems set to run and run well into 2018.

Of course, it is the raison d’être of online news outlets to focus on the horrible with sensationalistic relish, just as it remains so for the traditional print and cathode-ray mediums that predate them, regardless of the ‘and finally’ solace at the end of the carnage. The public wants what the public gets, as Paul Weller said almost 40 years ago (I know; it’s scary); a YT video I produced in 2014 took that line as its title whilst a catalogue of contemporary images accompanied the theme tune from the distant childhood adventures of Teddy Edward.

One of these images was of a couple kissing, under which a caption announced ‘This is Rape’. Far be it from me to adopt the guise of a twenty-first century Nostradamus, but this particular statement is suddenly relevant courtesy of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, whose latest Tweet is as good a reason as any why law-enforcers should steer clear of social media and concentrate on solving genuine bloody crimes. According to a now-deleted Tweet that has nevertheless been posthumously seized upon by the Daily Telegraph, kissing a lady under the mistletoe (something that apparently still occurs) is classified as ‘rape’ unless consent is first acquired. Say no more, twenty-seven-f**king-teen.

I don’t know what’s going on any more than you do. It’s insane, and I don’t know how we got here, let alone how we get out of it. I poke fun at it with a sardonic eye, but I’m well aware I’m just pissing in the wind, satirically fiddling as our rotten Rome burns. Over a year on from ‘Something in the Air’, the fog hasn’t cleared and people who matter to me – good people who don’t deserve the shit they’re having to deal with – are even worse off now than they were then. I try to be a tower of strength to them, but I often feel a bit of a hypocrite ‘cause I know deep down I’m as f**ked-up as they are. I could be bold and declare I start most days struggling to come up with a reason to keep buggering on and end most days unconvinced that I found one; but my ego likes to think I make a difference, so I stick around.

Simon le Bon was once ripped to shreds for carelessly describing Duran Duran as the band to dance to when the bomb drops, but part of me knows what he meant. We may be almost four decades on from a throwaway comment made in the heat of early 80s Cold War paranoia; but if this is the blog that people read before they take a leap into the unknown from Beachy Head, so be it. As long as I’m here, I’ll KBO and I’ll love a select few as I do so because they make life worth living. And I’ll still be here when you switch on tomorrow, for good or ill.

© The Editor

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mr-Yesterday-Johnny-Monroe/dp/154995718X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510941083&sr=1-1

Advertisements

US, THEM AND THE REST

One of the key – and, yes, (sorry) iconic – moments in one of my favourite movies, ‘Blow-Up’, comes when David Hemmings’ Swinging London photographer attends a druggy party with the hip set and he runs into one of his top models, played by an actual 60s top model, the exotic Veruschka. Under the impression she couldn’t make one of his shoots because she was otherwise engaged, Hemmings says ‘I thought you were supposed to be in Paris’, to which the stoned beauty replies ‘I am in Paris’.

Personally, I haven’t physically been in Paris for over 30 years, though I’ve regularly been there in a Veruschka sense; even stone-cold sober, I know where she’s coming from. I guess we’ve all imagined ourselves in surroundings we regard as more conducive to the people we feel we are. Combating inverted snobbery and the ‘know-your-place/don’t-get-ideas-above-your station’ default mindset intended to protect the little people from overreaching their origins is something anyone emanating from an estate will be familiar with; but visiting Paris in one’s head is often the only option. Others, of course, judge greatness by the amount of material goods they can call their own, believing ownership of such items somehow elevates them into a higher social strata because those who can match the goods to an equivalent bank-balance are who they aspire to be; get the goods and you can manufacture the impression of affluence. And making an impression is half the game today.

It’s been a staple diet of mainstream TV for well over a decade, whether in property porn shows, ‘Come Dine with Me’, the Essex/Chelsea un-reality programmes, or the ‘I-wanna-be-famous’ Cowell approach – presenting the viewers with an ideal it implies they can attain and make them better than their nearest neighbour. All feed into the same necessary fantasy generated by the National Lottery because knuckling down and putting the hours in can no longer guarantee an actual escape route, whether doing it academically or working your way up the corporate ladder. Today’s resignation of all four members of what is known as ‘The Social Mobility Commission’ is being cynically dismissed by some as political point scoring, bearing in mind one of the most prominent voices on the panel was ex-Labour Minister from the Blair era, Alan Milburn. But the Tory Peer Baroness Gillian Shephard has quit with him.

In his resignation letter to the PM, Milburn wrote ‘the Government as a whole is unable to commit the same level of support’ to social mobility as it claims to do with education; he also addressed Theresa May directly when he wrote ‘I do not doubt your personal belief in social justice, but I see little evidence of that being translated into meaningful action.’ Milburn expanded his reasons behind quitting a post he has held for five years on ‘The Andrew Marr Show’, when he blamed the Government’s all-encompassing focus on Brexit as relegating other important and pressing issues to the bottom drawer. The Commission is intended to oversee the Government’s attempts at ‘freeing children from poverty and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential’, though Milburn compared this to ‘pushing water uphill’.

The Government has responded to the decision of the Commission by saying Milburn’s tenure had reached its natural conclusion and that it would be getting fresh blood in. Even though Milburn claims Education Secretary Justine Greening wanted him to remain in the post, Greening herself toed the Government line re the ‘fresh blood’ remit and has stuck to the positive script despite the publication of a report by the Commission last week that pointed out ‘political alienation’ and ‘social resentment’ as well as the indisputable divisions the EU Referendum result exposed to a far wider audience than had acknowledged them before.

The oft-aired theory of London as an economic citadel separated from the rest of the country – particularly old industrial heartlands, isolated rural outposts and neglected coastal enclaves – also formed part of the Commission’s report. None of this will have come as a surprise to anyone outside of the capital (or at least its booming boroughs), but perhaps the Government will only listen when they’re told so by a committee they set-up; mind you, it doesn’t even sound like they’re listening to this one.

The report studied all of England’s 324 local authorities and upheld the postcode lottery syndrome, even if it proved to be far more widespread a division than a straightforward North-South split. West Somerset was down at the bottom of the league table, for example, and the likes of relatively wealthy Crawley and West Berkshire also performed poorly when it came to their most vulnerable sons and daughters, exhibiting a greater gap between their high and low earners. Wages, limited career prospects and the chances of anyone starting life from a lowly position being able recover from it were important factors in the report, and as a collective region, the East Midlands came out worst of all. Newark and Sherwood in Nottinghamshire were found to be the poorest performing local authorities, with anyone there from a disadvantaged background less likely to rise above it than anywhere else in the country.

Some of Alan Milburn’s recommendations in the review of ‘Left-Behind Britain’ sound like stating the bleedin’ obvious, but even if they were implemented we’re probably talking another generation before they’d show any impact, and who knows how much rarer social mobility will have become by then? Really, when one strips away familiar factors – including disproportionate levels of immigration in some areas that have further limited job and housing opportunities, not to mention savage cuts to social services – at the root of it all is the same thing that has always been at the root of this problem: class. The old saying ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ remains the mantra for getting on in this country. Not enough of us know the right people, and most of us never will.

© The Editor

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mr-Yesterday-Johnny-Monroe/dp/154995718X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510941083&sr=1-1

SHOP TILL YOU DROP

As I’ve stated on more than one previous occasion, online shopping has been a Godsend for me, liberating me from having to make the dreaded trip ‘into town’ – especially this particularly appalling time of year. Only this morning, dashing down the aisles of my local Sainsbury’s in search of something to invigorate my jaded appetite, I received my first exposure of 2017 to the soundtrack that pumps out the same old seasonal songs on the same old loop until any lingering nostalgic affection for the individual tracks in question is finally, belatedly, obliterated. Yes, even ‘Fairytale of New York’, perennially held-up as the ‘Cool’ Christmas song, is beginning to grate after 30 years and is now firmly settled alongside Noddy, Roy, Greg and Jona as an earworm only marginally less unwelcome than the Radio 1 ‘mix-tape’ my new neighbour plays at 4.30am every weekend to obscure the bottom-spanking sex sounds emanating from her flat door.

I rarely make the journey into the nearest city centre now; until I stopped smoking I was mainly making the journey solely to purchase cheap tobacco from a small shop I frequented for the best part of fifteen years – baccy that supplemented the 40 cigs a day I was addicted to. Since I switched to vaping, I’ve been spared the fortnightly trek, and now I have no reason whatsoever to set foot there. A recent conversation with a friend on the horrors of physical shopping made me realise that I literally have nothing to venture into such an arena for anymore. All the shops that lured me there for the majority of my adult life have gone.

Memories of childhood city centre shopping outings mostly consist of being reluctantly dragged around ‘mum stores’ such as M&S and C&A, sterile feminine emporiums with little or no appeal for a bored boy; appeasement came as a reward before the bus-stop, when the bookshelves of Boots or WH Smiths would provide momentary portals to more exciting alternatives.

Once free from the maternal jackboot, locations that would provoke exasperation in mothers were ports-of-call on adolescent wanderings around the same square-mile – second-hand record, book and magazine shops situated down seedy side-streets off the previously beaten path, emitting intoxicatingly musty odours and manned by grubby geezers or shady ladies with mouths as foul as the enticingly archaic stench produced from the piles of yellowing 70s NME, Sounds and Melody Maker issues or LPs from record collections offloaded in the wake of the thirty-something CD exodus that such shops specialised in. Emerging from these divinely dark caves, one’s fingers were as dirty as the neglected corners of the town they were hidden away in.

The mainstream choices weren’t really mum-friendly either – mainly Virgin and HMV, which were initially as deliciously ‘alternative’ as the aforementioned independent specialist shops in the first half of the 80s, at least. If there was a colour scheme, it was sex-shop black; even the staff looked like they should be in bands, albeit The Specimen or The Slits; one pink-haired vamp was a particular personal incentive for making Virgin a regular haunt of bunking-off sessions during the last desperate days of school – sessions that would sometimes inadvertently lead to encounters with other truant wastrels dressed in uncharacteristic ensembles that would never be permissible in the place we were supposed to be attending. Of course, I didn’t ‘chat-up’ the pink-haired vamp behind the counter; I didn’t know how. But I occasionally wonder what became of her.

The shop sold videos too! ‘The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle’ was on sale in there – and they’d never broadcast that on the telly. It’d cost you around £25 to see Sid Vicious strolling through Paris and offending the natives, mind; and you’d also have to wade through the VHS/Betamax debate in order to work out if your primitive family VCR would play the bloody thing. It was all academic, though; the tape was way out of your pocket-money league, so all you could do was study the packaging and wish YouTube into existence 20 years early.

By the time the HMV morphed into just another mall monstrosity aimed at game-boys, and Virgin briefly became known as ‘Zavvi’ – or the more common nickname, ‘Spazzi’ – there were other reasons to venture into the city centre, such as bookstore Borders. Books, CDs, a café, and another alluring female member of staff to moon over – that was a good enough reason to make it an essential stop-off point on a circuit that remained a fortnightly routine. And then came 2008. In a matter of months, the small list of shops that still made shopping bearable for me suddenly vanished. The disappearance of the traditional singles chart display in HMV and ‘Zavvi’ had already curtailed a 30-year habit that made 2007 the final year I bought a physical single, but now all the other stores that had constituted the map of my shopping ceremony had gone.

The news that Toys R Us are preparing to close a quarter of their 106 UK stores, leading to the loss of hundreds of jobs, is the latest casualty of online shopping’s ascendancy almost a decade on from the 2008 crash. Although it wasn’t a shop I frequented, the announcement marks the latest development in a seemingly ongoing saga in which the ease of purchasing goods via eBay or Amazon has supplanted the undesirable experience of mulling around stores with one’s ears polluted by archive Xmas ditties and one’s person constantly confronted by the fat, sweaty crush of other people. It’s one more sign of our changing times, but one I don’t necessarily mourn the loss of. I left it all behind a long time ago.

© The Editor

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mr-Yesterday-Johnny-Monroe/dp/154995718X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510941083&sr=1-1

AM I BOVVERED?

‘Meh’ was once the term particularly prevalent on social media five or six years back (could be more – who cares?) that was intended to verbalise a shrug of the shoulders and condense ‘I couldn’t give a f**k’ into one short, sharp shock of a statement. I never thought I’d miss a word so characteristic of this rotten century’s habit of shortening the English language into an endless sequence of edited sound-bites; but ‘meh’ seems so apt when it comes to the last 48 hours. Prince Harry getting engaged – meh; Donald Trump tweeting Britain First videos – meh. There are people I know who are having to deal with serious issues considerably more significant than ‘the spare’ getting hitched to the whitest mixed-race divorcee on the market or the President of the USA presenting virtue-signalling MPs with another opportunity to denounce him as the reincarnation of Hitler.

Prince Harry, the Hooray Henry of disputable parentage and the Margaret to William’s Elizabeth, spent his youth cutting a ginger swathe through the tabloids either in the altogether or wearing a Swastika, and then redeemed his reputation in the eyes of those who give a shit by playing the soldier for Granny & Country before embarking upon the tried-and-tested route of doing something charitable for ‘Our Boys’ to show he wasn’t just another upgrade of self-indulgent Hanoverian excess in the absence of something to do. By announcing his engagement to a glorified Kardashian, Harry has gifted Fleet Street with one more reason to recycle the same tired old clichés anew in its never-ending Windsor propaganda programme for a nation that wouldn’t be remotely interested were it not for BBC1 and ITV plugging this nauseating shit on a loop as some form of superficial panacea for the people while they struggle to make ends meet.

With Meghan Markle being American, it was only a matter of excruciating seconds before the spectre of Wallis Simpson infiltrated the coverage, though it should be noted that Mrs Simpson was having it off with a man poised to become King and Emperor in an age in which both Catholics and divorcees were barred from ascending to consort status. Harry is currently fifth in line to the throne and will drop another place come the birth of the third sprog to emerge from the marriage of William and Kate, scheduled to be born on the front page of the Daily Express next spring. It’s not exactly a constitutional crisis, is it?

As for Meghan Markle’s countryman ensconced in the White House, this has been a week in which Mr President has given the left in this country one more open goal they’ve made the most of. His ill-advised re-tweets of gruesome videos posted by Britain First have led to renewed calls to withdraw the invite for a state visit that Theresa May made with uncomfortable haste in the wake of his victory in the US Presidential Election last year. The Donald’s Twitter adventures were a source of both entertainment and outrage even before he ascended to the pinnacle of power, but the hounds unleashed by his latest social media faux-pas have certainly sparked some delicious holier-than-thou hypocrisy in the Commons this week.

A few Tories such as Sajid Javid have broadcast their reactions, whereas Labour MP Naz Shah – a woman so thick and quick to virtue-signal that she re-tweeted a mischievous comment by the fake Owen Jones without pausing to notice his surname was spelt differently – has added her voice to the Trump condemnation by agreeing with a veteran backbencher from her own party that the President should be charged with ‘Hate Crime’. The usual Labour suspects such as ‘Celebrity Mastermind’ dummy David Lammy and Emily ‘Lady Nugee’ Thornberry have lined-up to wear their mortification as T-shirts, and Chris Bryant reminded the electorate he’s still alive by accusing Trump of ‘inciting religious hatred’ – sorry, but are we living in Cromwell’s Commonwealth? Blasphemy laws should have been blown to smithereens with the Gunpowder Plot. They have no place in the twenty-first century, regardless of how Islam has been ring-fenced as a special case above and beyond any criticism, thus sending those unable to express reservations into the arms of illiterate rabble-rousers like Britain First.

Theresa May has added her voice to the condemnation and provoked a defensive response from Trump himself; the PM’s scripted stance has earned her support amongst Trump’s opponents in the US, including a rather worrying Tweet from Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah (no, me neither), who declared the PM was ‘one of the great world leaders’ and proclaimed he has ‘incredible love and respect for her and the way she leads the United Kingdom, especially in the face of turbulence’. Is that the turbulence of Brexit, the turbulence caused by her own unruly Cabinet, or ‘the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom’ that the President spoke of following Mrs May’s criticism of him, I wonder?

Donald Trump is too dim and full of himself to avoid walking into these PR disasters, yet those who are on a permanent vigil to rip him to shreds whenever he puts his foot in it again, and are anticipating being showered in plaudits for doing so, are no better – the same self-serving, egotistical wankers whose desperate cries for attention mean no more to me than Prince Harry’s nuptials. F**k the lot of ‘em.

© The Editor

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mr-Yesterday-Johnny-Monroe/dp/154995718X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510941083&sr=1-1

PATRICIDE IS PAINLESS

If, as Philip Larkin infamously observed, they f**k you up, your mum and dad, what about the other way round? What do children do to mum and dad? A fair few parents have certainly been f**ked-up by awful offspring whose appalling activities are conducted with a conviction mummy and daddy will love them regardless and forgive them anything. It’s a bit harder to ensure love and forgiveness when the target of verbal patricide has been dead for almost twenty years, however. The fact that Sacha Newley, skint artist with a book to plug, has decided to brand his deceased father Anthony a ‘paedophile’ seemingly to drum-up interest and make a fast buck is as sad an exercise in celebrity grave-pissing as we’ve had for quite a while. His comments in last weekend’s Sunday Times, derived from the Woody Allen/Mia Farrow manual, have provoked public rebuttals from both his mother Joan Collins and his sister Tara Newley.

Sacha Newley is either a vindictive and shameless publicly seeker with unresolved father-son issues or is in possession of a limited grasp of the English language. Like many who retrospectively invoke such a contentious term, he seems to believe his father’s liberation from the repressive 50s via having a good time with the opposite sex in the 60s made him a paedophile. ‘My father was drawn to youthfulness,’ he declares. ‘He thought innocence was an aphrodisiac. That was his sexual proclivity, and it’s a very dangerous, destructive thing.’ I hardly think, as a successful singer and actor, Anthony Newley was an anomaly in the Swinging decade when it came to enjoying the company of young ladies. Indeed, it’s hard to name anyone of comparable fame and fortune that didn’t do likewise given half the chance – and any ageing Lothario with a handsome bank-balance will always pull women young enough to be their daughter. Just ask Bernie Ecclestone; or maybe the current occupant of the White House.

To even call the late, great Anthony Newley a pederast would be an abuse of that term’s true meaning; to call him a paedophile, which implies he had a sexual interest in pre-pubescent children, is both lazy and inaccurate. Newley’s ex-wife and Sacha’s mother Joan Collins has called her son ‘naive’ and questioned his understanding of the word. ‘Tony loved young women,’ she said. ‘Young women of 17, 18 (and) 19 years old, not children by any means. Never in a million years would I be married to somebody like that. It’s categorically not true. I never saw any of that kind of behaviour from Tony.’ The couple’s daughter Tara said she was ‘shocked by my brother’s comments…I had an incredibly close relationship with my father and am deeply upset by these false allegations.’

Chiefly remembered these days for playing the Artful Dodger in David Lean’s celebrated 1948 version of ‘Oliver Twist’, being one of Joan Collins’s numerous husbands, and for exerting a key influence on the early recordings of David Bowie, Anthony Newley was an unsung national treasure who subverted the career path he could have followed by doing things his own way. An unlikely pop star in that odd little period between the decline of 50s Rock ‘n’ Roll and the rise of The Beatles, two chart-topping singles in 1960 made him the hottest property in British showbiz, and the call came from ATV (the light-entertainment leader of the original ITV companies) to star in his own television series.

What makes Anthony Newley so special and admirable is that he spurned the routine variety show ATV clearly expected and instead opted to produce the first ever genuinely ‘out there’ series UK TV created, predating ‘The Prisoner’ by seven years. ‘The Strange World of Gurney Slade’ was not what Lew Grade ordered, and after debuting in prime-time, the programme baffled both audiences and critics so much that it was shunted to a late-night graveyard slot thereafter. Basically, a mainstream viewing public was simply not ready for ‘Gurney Slade’ in 1960, though it’s no wonder considering how radically different it was to anything that had preceded it.

What the unprepared viewer is exposed to as Newley’s character exits the set of a generic TV show of the time and wanders out into a real world that his imagination transforms into something wonderfully surreal is his inner voice; Newley uses facial expressions in the style of silent movie actors to convey what he’s thinking as his dubbed thoughts provide a running commentary on what he sees. It’s remarkable to realise ITV had only been in existence for five years when the series was made, yet Newley satirises commercial television’s formulaic clichés with the genius of someone who had spent twenty years shouting at his TV set.

In my humble opinion, Anthony Newley isn’t remembered enough as it is; the last thing he deserves is to be only remembered for this kind of unproven and un-provable accusation, though this pernicious trend now appears to be the default setting of so many seeking attention that even if Sacha Newley doesn’t suggest his father acted inappropriately towards him (and he mercifully doesn’t), the damage is already being done to a life and a reputation.

It’s a strong, sorry possibility that half-a-decade of relentless post-Savile historical revisionism has now served to cultivate the belief that every man in the 60s and 70s expressing his natural red-blooded tendencies with willing and consenting women of a legal age was a retrospective rapist at best or Paedo at worst. Sacha Newley’s irresponsible comments have poured further fuel on a fire that shows no sign of burning itself out because there is now an entire industry that relies upon the heat it generates. And those flames don’t distinguish between the guilty and the innocent.

© The Editor

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mr-Yesterday-Johnny-Monroe/dp/154995718X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510941083&sr=1-1

ANGELA’S ASHES

This has not been a good week for world leaders who’ve overstayed their welcome. Robert Mugabe had to be effectively woken-up in order to be notified he’d been overthrown by a military coup; and Angela Merkel’s twelve-year reign as German Chancellor seems less secure now than it has at any time since her rise to power. Not that you’d know it from her body language, however; with the characteristic arrogance that has become a hallmark of the institution Frau Merkel sponsors – the EU – Germany’s figurehead is carrying on regardless. Her party achieved its lowest share of the popular vote since 1949 in September’s Federal Election and a Government still hasn’t been formed, yet Merkel’s failure to cobble together a coalition from the chaos appears to be a mere storm in a democratic teacup to a woman whose dominance of German politics in the post-war era can only be matched by that of her one-time mentor, the late Helmut Kohl.

One thing you can say in Tony Blair’s favour (okay, I realise that’s not easy) is that he timed his exit at precisely the right moment, just on the cusp of an imminent economic crash he left his hapless successor to deal with. He didn’t wait to be pushed; he jumped. For politicians with a decade or more as top man to their name, such second-sense skills are rare. After that long in power, the talent that propelled them to the pinnacle is usually numbed by a notion of unassailable invincibility that generally tends to constitute their downfall; Mrs T inevitably springs to mind. One wonders if Angela Merkel has finally reached the point in 2017 that Maggie reached in 1990.

Theresa May’s unconvincing assertion that she intends to go ‘on and on’ a few months back was either a grandiose act of self-delusion on the part of the PM or Central Office propaganda that few of even her most devoted insiders swallowed without coughing-up again seconds later. When it comes to her counterpart in Central Europe, however, I have little doubt Merkel herself is a serious subscriber to her own political immortality. September’s abysmal election result, especially following the historic landslide victory of four years before, doesn’t seem to have dented Merkel’s conviction that nobody else is capable of controlling her country, and she’s prepared to go back to the German electorate if need be to ensure her survival after the collapse of coalition negotiations.

At a time when many Western Governments were practising understandable caution when it came to relaxing their immigration rules for admitting Syrian refugees, Merkel embarked upon a grandstand gesture in the wake of 2015’s European migrant crisis that masked the motivation behind the opening of Germany’s gates – i.e. the fact that the nation has an ageing population and too many jobs for too few young natives to fill. The plaudits she received beyond Germany for the publicised arrival of people fleeing Middle Eastern and African war zones also conveniently contradicted Merkel’s own opinions on multiculturalism, expressed in 2010. Addressing the youth wing of her Christian Democratic Union party, Merkel said attempts to construct a multicultural society in Germany had failed. ‘The concept that we are now living side-by-side and are happy about it does not work’, she said, before going on to emphasise immigrants should integrate and adopt German values, something she evidently believed they hadn’t up to that point.

Seven years later, Merkel’s previous beliefs were ironically expanded by the right-wing party Alternative for Germany in the Federal Election, claiming 94 seats in the Bundestag and making AfG the third largest party. Needless to say, Merkel is not looking to form a coalition with them. Up until AfG’s success in September’s Federal Election, they were led by Frauke Petry; but Frau Petry, whose views are far-from ‘moderate’, nevertheless announced she would sit in the Bundestag as an independent for fear of her political career being tarred with the kind of extremist far-right brush parties such as AfG invariably attract. The surge of support for AfG, however, undoubtedly represents the first real electoral backlash against the policies Merkel has pursued on immigration in the last few years; and as someone so closely associated with the EU, Merkel for many represents a strain of European politician whose pursuance of economic, social and racial integration between nations overrides concerns for home-grown natives left behind by the great Brussels gravy-train.

The success of such a project is rarely judged on the impact it has on those directly affected by it, anyway. An arch-advocate of the EU, Angela Merkel is as detached from the mindset that propelled AfG to such a strong showing in the Federal Election as one or two of our own broadsheet ‘cultural commentators’ are from some of the less-publicised negative effects that EU membership has had on Britain – mainly because they largely reside in wealthy, all-white neighbourhoods in which Eastern European immigrants have a fixed and lowly subservient role as au-pairs and nannies, glorified coolies for the post-imperial nouveau-riche, representing no threat to the position of those who employ them. As a ‘Question Time’ audience member recently memorably observed, who will serve us our café lattes in the event of an open-door policy being abandoned courtesy of Brexit?

Angela Merkel is no idiot; she is perhaps the most skilful professional politician of the past decade, one who has used her considerable talents to keep herself at the top of the tree whilst so many of her contemporaries and counterparts – Sarkozy, Cameron, Berlusconi et al – have fallen by the wayside. Yet even the greatest of political sagas has to have an end as well as a beginning and a middle. Merkel’s journey from the GDR has been one of the stories of our times; but nothing lasts forever, as Echo and the Bunnymen once said, and it’s hard to avoid the feeling that another one of this year’s Ms – along with May and Mugabe – is reaching the end of the road. What that might mean for Germany, for Europe, and for the EU, is too early to say; but maybe we’ll find out if the Germans are poised to go to the polls again before 2017 is out.

© The Editor

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mr-Yesterday-Johnny-Monroe/dp/154995718X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510941083&sr=1-1

WHAT BECAME OF THE PEOPLE WE USED TO BE?

It’s a weird sensation, but there’s often no more sober a reminder of one’s own mortality as when the death is announced of a famous face whose countenance is inexorably bound up with dim and distant formative years. Over the past 24 hours, two such deaths have been announced and both make me feel unaccountably sad. I never met either in person, but actor Rodney Bewes and pop star David Cassidy were in the room when I was opening my eyes. The former was one half of a sitcom duo, whereas the other was the luminous pin-up of the moment. Just turned five, ‘Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?’ and ‘The Partridge Family’ were twin telly treats; one was rooted in a Northern English reality I recognised, whilst the other was a Californian fantasy that nevertheless sold an alluring illusion, one that said a bunch of kids could be in a successful band with their mother yet still lead ordinary suburban lives. Well, why not?

Both Rodney Bewes and his ‘Likely Lads’ co-star James Bolam had made their initial marks as big-screen sidekicks to one of the rising stars of early 60s ‘Kitchen Sink’ cinema, Tom Courtenay – Bewes in ‘Billy Liar’ and Bolam in ‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner’. In 1964, the pair came together in the first attempt to transplant the vogue for the North to the small screen for comic effect; the success of ‘Steptoe and Son’ had legitimised the sitcom as a vehicle for serious actors rather than music-hall comedians, and ‘The Likely Lads’, launched along with BBC2, was a refreshing break in the new channel’s otherwise highbrow schedule. Penned by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, ‘The Likely Lads’ was the first outing for a writing partnership that went on to define comedic portrayals of male friendship, as demonstrated in later successes such as ‘Porridge’ and ‘Auf Wiedersehen Pet’.

Sequels years after the event are usually cynical affairs manufactured to exploit sentimental longing for the past and are about as effective in recapturing lost magic as high-school reunions. However, ‘Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?’, which first aired in 1973, actually surpasses the original series by carrying Bob and Terry into their uncertain (and far more interesting) thirties.

James Bolam’s Terry returns home from an overseas sojourn in the Army with a fresh chip on his shoulder, having missed the Swinging end of the 60s and arriving back in Ted Heath’s Three-Day Week Britain. He strolls bewildered through a landscape in which the close-knit back-to-back communities have been swept away by concrete tower-blocks. And with them have gone the characters constituting Terry’s carefree youth, now subdued by marriages and mortgages. Even worse, Rodney Bewes’ Bob has moved up the social scale, engaged to middle-class Thelma and living on a new housing estate, leaving his single life (and background) behind, much to Terry’s chagrin.

‘Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?’ is as potent a study of the crossroads between youth and middle-age as any TV drama has managed, let alone sitcom. The sacrifice of adolescent hopes and aspirations on the altar of a system that will dispense material rewards yet still dump those who submit to it in the cultural vacuum of the suburbs is handled with humour and humanity. Terry is an inverted snob, clinging to his beer and football whilst Bob tries to better himself with wine and badminton clubs, reflecting a now-lost world of social mobility and the belief that things can only get better. For Bob and Terry’s generation, things could get better; but it depended how far one was prepared to compromise. I can imagine Bob ending up as a divorcee with an ulcer after putting the work in, whereas Terry seems the type to eventually win a fortune on the Lottery after bumming around for decades.

When Bob and Terry were engaged in their class war, a graduate of a US TV ensemble piece had already progressed to solo status in the singles charts. A product of an American acting dynasty, David Cassidy made his name towards the end of his teens playing the whiter-than-white Keith Partridge alongside his real-life stepmother Shirley Jones and the impossibly beautiful Susan Dey. ‘The Partridge Family’ capitalised on the earlier success of ‘The Monkees’ by blending sitcom and pop, the main difference being that Cassidy was the only member of Mrs Partridge’s mixed brood with any musical ability. His was the sole Partridge voice on any of the Partridge Family hits, and his launch as a pop idol in his own right was inevitable.

At a time when home-grown pop stars were dabbling with a decadent dressing-up box, David Cassidy and his bedroom wall rival Donny Osmond appealed to the British pubescent female craving for the cute, the cuddly and the unthreatening. Both were more successful here than in the States, inspiring the kind of hysterical reaction unseen since Beatlemania; but whereas Donny Osmond was genuinely clean-cut, David Cassidy soon became irked by his image and attempted to trash it by appearing half-naked on the front cover of ‘Rolling Stone’ and ripping ‘The Partridge Family’ to pieces in the accompanying interview.

His US career stalled thereafter, so he concentrated his efforts on the far more receptive UK. However, his career here climaxed in tragic fashion when a 14-year-old fan was crushed to death during a concert at the old White City Stadium in 1974. Cassidy withdrew from the stage as a result and his recording career gradually declined as he returned to full-time acting.

What do you do when you’ve been David Cassidy, though? You can’t just vanish back into the chorus-line. After a brief brush with the charts again in 1985, he spent the rest of his life appearing on the nostalgia circuit and struggling with his own demons; a long-running battle with alcohol and then the onset of dementia was followed by liver and kidney failure at the age of 67. Rodney Bewes was a decade older than Cassidy, but he too remained linked to his youthful self in the public eye. His falling-out with James Bolam not long after they ceased to be Likely Lads was never resolved, but even the knowledge of their sad spat doesn’t sour the pleasure of watching the two of them together on DVD in a series that grows richer in its poignancy as the decades drift by. And there’s a kind of immortality in that, at least.

© The Editor

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mr-Yesterday-Johnny-Monroe/dp/154995718X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510941083&sr=1-1

THE WORLD WON’T LISTEN

Forty years ago, the most damaging verbal assault one could make upon the establishment was to say ‘God save the Queen/she ain’t no human being’; today, simply express reservations over Islam as a ‘religion of peace’ and give the thumbs-up to Brexit. To do so will earn you the same vitriolic condemnation from the establishment and expose you to an identical level of censorship. The main difference now is that the establishment is young and the dissenting voices are old. This upside-down reversal of battle lines has been a long, protracted process, building up over a generation spoon-fed a saccharine soundtrack by the Cowell industry and further sedated by social media. A consensus unquestioned and unchallenged, whether through fear of online ostracism or being lumped in with genuine extremist groups, has stifled debate amongst the young and left those with nothing to lose or prove as the only ones prepared to go against the grain. That these tend to be veterans whose key cultural contributions were made decades ago speaks volumes as to where we are now.

A couple of years back, Chrissie Hynde – feted as an embodiment of ‘Rock Chick Cool’ by a generation judging everything on a pose – spurned her unwanted canonisation by those young enough to be her daughters. She provoked Feminazi outrage with the publication of her autobiography by simply suggesting a little common sense be applied where young women on the town are concerned; and now her near-contemporary Morrissey has fired another contentious missive from his self-imposed exile across the pond, the latest in a long line of them that have served to keep his profile high as his music continues to languish in the same cul-de-sac it’s occupied since the early 90s.

Stephen has always revelled in his contrariness, memorably proclaiming ‘The Wild Boys’ by Duran Duran Single of the Week in ‘Smash Hits’ back in 1984 when he would have been expected to favour some jangly Indie ditty; and whilst he was critical of Thatcherism during its heyday, his loathing never seemed to be a convenient hitch on a fashionable bandwagon in the way it was for many members of his generation, most of whom were later happy to cheerlead for New Labour as they collected their MBEs and Knighthoods. Ben Elton never said he enjoyed the sight of Norman Tebbit being pulled from the wreckage of the Brighton Bombing, for example.

When he was lumbered with the ‘National Treasure’ albatross a decade or so ago, lionised by the likes of JK Rowling, one had the constant suspicion that such plaudits were sitting uncomfortably on his shoulders; his one-time musical soul-mate Johnny Marr publicly expressed he didn’t want David Cameron declaring ‘The Queen is Dead’ to be his favourite album, whereas Morrissey went even further in the eyes of those suddenly singing his praises by taking a big juicy chunk out of the hand that was feeding him. Should anyone have really been surprised, though? This is a man who had called Reggae ‘vile’ and ‘racist’ in the 80s and who was castigated for flaunting the Union Jack at a gig in 1992 by the same music scribes who eulogised Oasis (and Noel Gallagher’s Union Jack guitar) a couple of years later.

Unlike Paul Weller, Morrissey never embraced a particular political party, let alone a specific left or right ideology. He appeared to be above all that and, like Orwell before him, refrained from nailing his colours to the mast. Whichever stance was flavour of the month, he seemed to instinctively adopt the opposite position, and I feel his much-publicised sound-bite support for UKIP was born of the same mischievous motivation rather than a wholesale conversion to Nigel’s Barmy Army. It was just another antagonistic jacket for him to don as a means of getting up the noses of those who were patting him on the head for still being alive.

Yes, it’s true that certain wordsmiths sharing a lineage with Morrissey, such as Philip Larkin or Iris Murdoch, lurched further to the right as they aged; and one could look upon Morrissey’s opinions as belonging to the same process. On the other hand, one could view his refusal to kowtow to the consensus as another example of how his lifelong bloody-mindedness is still intact, even in the face of overwhelming pressure to conform. The furore unleashed by Morrissey’s most recent statements has provoked the kind of demands for his head on a plate that used to accompany similarly provocative comments by those half his age – in short, the kind of reaction rock stars traditionally inspired in the old. What makes today so strange is that it is the old now outraging the young instead of the other way round.

One could equally argue that without his occasional rent-a-gob quotes, Morrissey would still largely be confined to a relatively brief moment in the 80s when he represented an alternative zeitgeist to the prevailing big hair and even bigger shoulder pads that lazy revisionists evoke to sum up the whole era for those who weren’t there. At the same time, however, he no longer has to worry about the kind of career suicide such quotes would threaten twenty-something musicians with; he knows his hardcore devotees will continue to buy his output as they always have, regardless of whether or not their hero is fashionable again. If the mainstream decides it wants him, fair enough; if it doesn’t, he couldn’t care less.

With 35 years of recording behind him, Morrissey has the luxury of being able to afford nonchalance, but those thirty or forty years his junior don’t; they have to conform or they risk losing everything. At a moment when Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are cracking down on any alternatives to the accepted design for life, dissenting voices are being silenced by a ruling class that don’t want democratic debate; they want us all to think and speak the same language. It doesn’t matter what one’s actual political ideology is; we should all be allowed to express it, even if it isn’t one that everybody wants to hear. Otherwise, we’re back to burning books. And it says everything you need to know about 2017 that the only person getting the arbiters of taste frothing at the mouth is someone who arguably hasn’t been relevant for three bloody decades.

© The Editor

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mr-Yesterday-Johnny-Monroe/dp/154995718X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510941083&sr=1-1

COOL FOR TWATS

Regardless of the silly cult that has enveloped an undistinguished petty criminal called Charles Manson over the last half-century, death probably won’t extinguish the fascination he continues to exude, alas. Manson, whose death at the age of 83 has been announced, finally passed away having spent the last 46 years behind bars. In 1971, he was convicted of instigating the notorious 1969 Sharon Tate murders, with him and his disciples conveniently evading the electric chair by virtue of California outlawing the death penalty during his lengthy trial. However, the Manson legend has continued to cast a spell upon successive generations of pop cultural scholars on account of timing; he committed his crimes at a point in the 60s when the Age of Aquarius Utopia was poised to turn sour, and his activities have been retrospectively tied-in with other Dystopian disasters of the decade’s death throes such as Altamont and the premature departures of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison.

It doesn’t help that Manson had been on the fringes of LA’s music scene prior to his immersion in messianic murder; having failed the audition for The Monkees, Manson had one of his songs recorded by The Beach Boys and proceeded to move himself and his growing hangers-on into the home of Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson. Wilson’s eventual exasperation with his unwelcome house-guests led to an eviction that provoked threats of a virtual fatwa on Manson’s part. Another target was Terry Melcher, son of Doris Day and top record producer, whose rejection of Manson as a potential recording artist was the reason why Melcher’s mansion on Cielo Drive was chosen by Manson as the site of a ritualistic blood-fest before he even knew it had been leased to Roman Polanski.

Disillusionment with the material riches of the American Dream drew a fair few lost souls to California in the mid-60s; some had talents that enabled them to carve out musical careers, whereas others bummed around looking for something that eluded them as they sought solace in bad drugs. George Harrison’s impressions of a visit to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury in 1967 were of a glorified Bowery, and an undoubtedly charismatic loser like Manson, one who was a generation ahead of such adolescent wastrels, could find willing recruits to his plans for a twisted race war inspired by his interpretation of ambiguous Beatles lyrics. Convinced the Fab Four were harbingers of the Apocalypse, Manson turned-on, tuned-in and dropped out with the White Album as his Koran. A cut-price Maharishi for those lacking the funds to decamp to India, Manson easily indoctrinated the growing followers he christened his ‘Family’, persuading them to do the dirty work on behalf of their guru.

Initially, there was a disturbing sense of humour to Manson’s operations, such as breaking into the homes of the rich and famous to simply rearrange the furniture; the home-owner would come downstairs on a morning, instantly realising he or she had received an unwelcome visitor during the night, yet nothing was missing. If only he’d stuck to a career as an unconventional interior designer, perhaps we’d remember Charles Manson as a prototype Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen rather than a counter-cultural Aleister Crowley. Unfortunately, the devotion Manson inspired meant his followers would indulge in him in any insane scheme he devised, and it was one such scheme that led to the brutal butchery inflicted upon the tenants of Terry Melcher’s house in August 1969.

As with similarly barbaric acts carried out by Jack the Ripper, Pol Pot and ISIS, there have been occasions in which I’ve accidentally stumbled upon photographic evidence of Manson’s Family’s evening out with Sharon Tate. The heavily pregnant actress and wife of Polanski was one of five slaughtered that night, and I defy anyone to uphold the opinion of Manson as ‘cool’ once exposed to images of what was done in his name. The Manson Family’s murderous spree not only put the fear of God into the Laurel Canyon Rock aristocrats – who had momentarily indulged Manson’s musical ambitions – but it also cast a malignant shadow across US pop culture at the turn of the 70s, bound up with Vietnam and Watergate as examples of the nation’s decline and fall. Four years after the conviction of the guilty, a Family member who had evaded imprisonment called Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme attempted to assassinate President Ford.

During Manson’s show trial, enlivened by his female followers shaving their heads and hanging around court hoping to be picked out by TV and press cameras (which they naturally were), his demo recordings were packaged as an LP to cover his legal costs; his peripheral presence on a scene that continues to keep the likes of ‘Rolling Stone’, ‘Mojo’ and ‘Uncut’ in business has maintained his unhealthy legend throughout the decades of his imprisonment. Even an otherwise mediocre band such as Kasabian have played their part in the industry by taking their name from a Manson Family member.

Ironically, in a day and age when celebrities can be instantly cast out as pariahs for looking at images on their PC or being accused of touching a knee years before, Manson’s far more damaging actions are routinely excused. Those who perpetuate the Manson myth hypocritically overlook the barbaric consequences of his imagination in a way they wouldn’t with, say, Peter Sutcliffe or Ian Brady; but the Yorkshire Ripper and Moors Murderer prowled the grim landscape of Northern England; they never resided in exotic LA or auditioned for The Monkees or rented a house from a Beach Boy or released an album. None of these factors should make a difference, but for some reason they do. To be fair, though, vicarious apologists were present from the beginning where Manson is concerned, particularly in the underground hippie press of the period, which couldn’t quite decide if Manson was hero or villain for ‘sticking it to the pigs’.

In theory, his death from boringly uninspired natural causes should finally draw a line under the issue; but if the pop culture that Charles Manson hovered over has taught us anything in the last fifty years, it is that death is merely another stage in a long line of career moves.

© The Editor

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mr-Yesterday-Johnny-Monroe/dp/154995718X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510941083&sr=1-1

THE SPECIAL ONES

Whatever the reasons behind the recent revelations concerning the contents of Damian Green’s office computer a decade ago – and the scramble for the moral high-ground between accuser and accused is an unedifying spectacle that speaks volumes about both – the fact the current First Secretary of State had such material on his hard-drive in the first place might appear somewhat careless. That the apparently ‘extreme’ nature of the pornography discovered was present a mere matter of weeks before it was outlawed only adds to the stupidity of Green in not deleting it. However, perhaps it was not so much stupidity as arrogance, the kind of ‘breed apart’ arrogance characteristic of either the old school tie or amongst those breathing the rarefied air of elevated social status.

I suspect Green wasn’t unduly concerned with having extreme pornography on his PC at work simply because he regarded himself as untouchable; he could afford to be lax when it came to such things because, unlike anyone in an ‘ordinary’ workplace – where the discovery of hardcore porn on an office computer would result in instant dismissal – he was in possession of the arrogance and sense of entitlement that comes with high office as well as being a by-product of certain seats of learning and the professions these seats subsequently lead to. Why should he have to worry about being caught out? His privileged position exempted him from the likelihood.

Politicians are particularly guilty of exhibiting this arrogance, and we notice it more with them because they’re always on our bloody TV screens flaunting it. Of course, there are the prep-school/public-school/Oxbridge conveyor-belt Honourable Members, whose conviction they were born to rule is bred into them from the off; yet there are also those who maybe didn’t have their inherited advantages but have acquired the same arrogance through mixing in the same circles. The instinctive craving to need someone to look down on is satisfied with promotion to Westminster if an MP emanates from humble origins, and a socialist can progress from cider to champagne with remarkable ease.

The Abbott’s and Thornberry’s of this world as just as arrogant in their own way as Dave and Gideon; that both are profoundly thick is evident whenever they open their mouths, yet what makes them so hilarious is that they’re not aware of how stupid they are. They speak with the confidence of the intelligent and appear to genuinely believe they’re a cut above the plebs; the Tweet that earned Lady Nugee her expulsion from Ed Miliband’s Shadow Cabinet in 2015 was as clear an indication of just how ‘clever’ she thinks she is next to the majority of the electorate. But to single out politicians as especially unique in this field would be to unfairly exclude many other professions that encourage the same Us and The Rest mindset.

Emily Thornberry could easily be the head of a social care department; she has the same ‘bossy fat woman’ demeanour that would complement a Birt-speak job title, enabling her to look down her nose at the distraught parents confronting her across the table like Oliver Twist asking for more. She could equally be running your local Job Centre (taking great delight in informing claimants their benefits have been suspended); she could be a school headmistress and could be a barrister.

Indeed, I have it on good authority from a member of the latter profession (one who mercifully lacks its least appealing traits) that the arrogance so in abundance when it comes to the legal game is practically a qualification for entering it. Law students are amongst the most pompous, smug, conceited, up-their-own-arses set of elite peacocks one could ever have the misfortune of being locked in a lift with, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by their detachment from the real world once they make it to the Bar, one that is blatantly obvious with some via their self-indulgent Tweets.

A friend recently selected (yet utterly unsuited) for jury service was able to eventually be excluded on medical grounds, yet it was hard work getting there; at one point, she contacted a solicitor for advice on how to go about it. The solicitor’s response, which was obviously intended as consolation, inadvertently exposed the arrogance of which I’ve been speaking. The solicitor (a lady) explained she herself also once had to do jury service, despite her exalted status. ‘Even I’, she declared. The phrase ‘Even I’ is imbued with everything employed by those who regard themselves as superior when conversing with their perceived inferiors. Yes, even I – someone who would never have a kitchen containing a washing-machine – had to do jury service! Can you imagine what a sacrifice that was for someone of my standing?! ‘Even I’ has now become an in-joke between my friend and me when in need of a simple description for a certain type of professional individual. ‘She was most definitely an Even I.’ Say no more.

It goes without saying that social snobbery stretches beyond the workplace; it’s there in those who feel the need to employ a cleaner when they can’t really afford one, but gain Brownie points from their peers for doing so; it’s there in those who measure their worth as human beings by how many recommended status symbols they can boast; and it’s there in those MPs who never imagined their own clumsy flirting rituals could drop them in the same hot water as the plebs hung out to dry by changes to the law governing sexual conduct that Westminster endorsed in the belief it wouldn’t be affected by them. Ironically, when it comes to some things, we are all in it together.

© The Editor

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mr-Yesterday-Johnny-Monroe/dp/154995718X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510941083&sr=1-1