Seven is a highly potent number. It concluded the head-count for both dwarves and Samurai; it provided us with the seas, the deadly sins, the colours of the rainbow, the wonders of the ancient world and the ages of man. It gave us the right quota of brides for the right quota of brothers, the amount of years for a marital itch, the veils needed for Salome’s erotic dance routine, the title of a disturbing 90s horror movie, Enid Blyton’s secret alternative to her famous quintet, the necessary inches for the classic pop single, the correct collection of rogues for an intergalactic outlaw called Blake, and – of course – the assembled days of the week. It seems to have followed me around. I was born in a year ending in seven, lived at a No.7 for the best part of two decades, and my current home is a residence whose separate flat and house numbers add up to…you guessed it. And now I have seven months on the clock to measure my faltering progress through the brave new world I was dumped in as 2017 drew to a grim full stop.

Careful – I’m perilously close to a pattern so familiar on Twitter, that of relentlessly focusing on the one topic over and over again with mouth-frothing fanaticism. I never used to do that, but I never previously wrote for this blog whilst trying to recover from…er…well, a breakdown. No touchy-feely alternative word for it. I certainly don’t want any of my jottings to be viewed as ‘therapeutic’ as a consequence, however. Even if trying to get back into the habit is undeniably a form of therapy for me, I should imagine coming to such posts as a reader when burdened with that awareness could make approaching them akin to a ‘duty’, precluding either enjoyment or stimulation and reducing the whole exercise to the reading equivalent of a professional goalkeeper allowing a special needs child to score a penalty for charity. I’m sure a holiday in Salisbury would seem more appealing right now.

OK, let’s try to widen the picture a little by saying Brexit, Brexit, Brexit. Bored already, alas. Mind you, it was two years ago when we all made our way to the polling station and cast our vote, so should the subject still be the main headline day-after-never-ending-day? Tiresome doom ‘n’ gloom predictions abound on both sides if it does/doesn’t turn out how either want it; and I’m afraid I’ve reached the point where I’m beginning to not care anymore. Most days, I feel as though this country is incurably f***ed anyway, but that’s probably because on many of those days I feel as though I’m incurably f***ed. Sorry, it’s not you; it’s me.

I ain’t no Jacob Rees-Mogg, extolling the economic virtues of Britain breaking with the EU whilst relocating my Russia-friendly business interests to Brussels-friendly Eire; and I ain’t no Lord Adonis, wistfully waving goodbye to the Continent from the window-seat of a private plane flying over the Alps with a teary-eye that foresees endless referenda until the desirable result is achieved. At the same time, much like that gruesome twosome, mine is not an objective perspective right now – though I at least have the decency to leave the subject alone as a result.

I suppose I could indulge in the contemporary trend of anniversary-marking to fill otherwise empty column inches; it’s not like I haven’t before, after all. This year we’ve got 10 since the financial crash, 30 since Acid House, 50 since the Paris Spring, 70 since the birth of the NHS, and a century since women in the UK won the vote (well, as long as they were over 30). The latter two have received the most attention, with the NHS anniversary in particular plumbing a nauseating nadir of sentimental media waffle that has run parallel with – and appears contradicted by – the shocking revelations from Gosport and Chester. Mysteriously, very little coverage has been given to the impenetrable layers of self-interested and self-satisfied management swallowing up the bags of cash that governments routinely throw towards the NHS in the hope some of it will filter down to frontline nurses and patients. But I guess that doesn’t fit the celebratory narrative.

Anyway, I’m not really paying attention. My much-missed feline companion passed away two years ago this month, yet just the other night the light caught one of her long-discarded nails embedded in the carpet – unseen since 2016. This tiny, seemingly insignificant fragment of a friend lost to me forever felt like an invaluable, precious gemstone when I excavated it; but any trinket touched by the lost keeps them close when we can no longer draw them to our breast. Some bin or burn such mementos because they cannot bear to be reminded; others find these articles imbued with a comforting resonance that serves as evidence they really were in our lives and we didn’t imagine them. As someone once said, was it just a dream? Seemed so real to me.

But, what the hell! School’s (almost) out for summer, so let’s switch our attention to the World Cup and Wimbledon. Better that than allow our eyes to linger on ladies’ legs and other exposed body parts lest we incur the wrath of those who permit female drooling over topless Aidan Turner whilst simultaneously condemning male longing to varnish the delicious porcelain flesh of Demelza with one’s tongue. Long may her Cornish bosom heave, for drama is one of the Beeb’s few remaining assets; by contrast, claims by the BBC’s box-ticking ‘comedy controller’ that the Pythons wouldn’t happen today because they were ‘too white’ gives an indication why the corporation’s current comedic output is so dire. The sun must have gone to his diversity-mangled head.

I remember 1976, but it was different then; I did things in hot weather I can’t do today. Besides, fun wasn’t as ‘organised’ forty-two years ago as it is now; adult involvement in childhood summer pursuits was mercifully minimal. I feel fortunate to have had the freedom to climb trees, kick balls past woollen goalposts, and arrange toy soldiers for a pitched battle to the strains of ‘Mars, the Bringer of War’. I steered clear of the Boy Scouts and the Cubs because I didn’t want grown-ups imposing their twee, sanitised idea of fun upon me. Pity the poor monitored kids of 2018’s heat-wave, who have never been left to their own devices and consequently can’t entertain themselves.

No, the best thing about this time of year – if you burn the midnight oil, of course – is reluctantly retiring to bed around 3.00am and catching one last look at the world outside your window. The landscape still consists of silhouettes, but the sky isn’t black; it’s a luscious shade of blue that enables you to already discern the next day on the horizon, as though it were a great wave rolling towards you in slow motion, one that only matures into its finished form when it washes over you several hours later, stirring you from slumber in the process. That’s a nice image to leave you with, at least. You don’t need a weather-man to know which way the wind blows; but may you always have a tiger in your tank.


© The Editor


gainsbourgFiction is tailor-made for immediate post-watershed Sunday evenings; it draws in the audiences as mainstream television has a welcome armistice from endless talent contests of both the celebrity and non-celebrity varieties, providing viewers with one final distraction from imminent Monday morning blues as the weekend grinds to a halt. Period dramas appear especially suited to the Sunday evening environment, offering an additionally exotic slice of escapism from the humdrum; and running against one another at the moment are two classic examples, BBC1’s remake of ‘Poldark’ and ITV’s ‘Victoria’ (which primarily focuses on the early life of the spirited young queen).

Let’s face it – few eras of British history are as gloriously detached from contemporary reality as the Regency. This was a time when men were men – or men that were dashing, duelling bastard bucks in tricorn hats, capes and knee-breeches; and women were damsels in distress, heaving bosoms encased by bodices and all. Try to apply killjoy modern mores to the era and you can understand why it’s more alluring and attractive than ever in such a restrictive, litigious Dark Age of thought-crime.

It is a familiar pattern than an eruption of licentious free-for-all hedonism follows each era of repressive Puritanism; that a Twitter account celebrating the historic whores of Olde England should be temporarily suspended due to its profile picture depicting Charles II’s most famous mistress Nell Gwyn with exposed nipples suggests we are back in the latter era. Now restored due to some delicate airbrushing around Nell’s nipples, the fact that said picture hangs in the National Portrait Gallery for all to see without any age restrictions emphasises the ludicrous nature of online censorship. I have accidentally come across images of severed heads courtesy of your friendly neighbourhood ISIS decapitator, butchered victims of Charles Manson’s murderous cult, and shots of Pol Pot’s torture chambers when still fully functioning – none of which I sought out; I would hazard a guess most would rather look at the nipples of a woman who died over 300 years ago, but one is obviously more offensive than the other.

Yet, if the evidence points to us all residing in a century of puritanical censorship that would have Cromwell giving the thumbs up from six feet under, how does that explain the gross-out vulgarity of the likes of ‘Geordie Shore’ or naked dating programmes or endless ‘Lads and lasses on the pull in Ibiza’ shows spread across the digital TV network like a particularly pungent STD? How does it explain magazines aimed at teenage girls with info on their front covers offering them advice on how to give the perfect blowjob? How does it explain the sensationalistic and sordid sexual voyeurism screaming from the ‘Take a Break’-type rags? How does it explain the soft-porn soft-sell of female pop stars promoting their wares on MTV? How does it explain ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’?

And, all the while, our prisons are increasingly overcrowded due to an influx of inmates found guilty of the same such acts that are today promoted as a design for life, reclassified as ‘historic sex crimes’ on the basis of several mentally-disturbed individuals’ hazy allegations and a corrupt justice system polluted by a political (not say financial) agenda. Ah, but that was then.

Just as the thought of their parents having sex induces a bout of vomiting in teenagers, the notion that past generations had any sort of consensual intimacy in their youth cannot be tolerated; take that onto the next level and it’s possible to punish them for their distant salacious indulgences – whether or not these indulgences took place in the real world or in the post-therapy imagination. In television terms, this is where Sunday evening’s predilection for fiction and modern-day Puritanism meet, as the two mainstream BBC TV channels will compete for our attention tonight by offering up a documentary on the lives of the Cornish gentry during the Napoleonic Wars and an utterly fictitious drama about a dead man posthumously painted as the greatest sexual predator of all time. Sorry, have I got that right?

A couple of years ago, I met some members of the Savile family; at the time, they remained hopeful their side of the story would receive some balanced media coverage. They mentioned the name of Louis Theroux, as the geeky specky had famously spent time on camera with the dead DJ and charity fundraiser during the back-end of his life. He had apparently expressed an interest in following up this documentary and had been in touch with the family. The end result of his endeavours, however, is not being promoted as an alternative point of view; instead it has been marketed as a more sophisticated version of your average Mark Williams Thomas exercise in crass sensationalism. It will clearly not question the consensus; it will toe the narrative line. Did anyone really expect a programme on this subject produced by the BBC to do otherwise?

If BBC DG Tony Hall bends over backwards any further to appease the knockers then he will be forced to talk out of his arse – whoops, it would seem he’s been doing that ever since he got the job. On the day Louis Theroux reaffirms every belief on that cadaverous Paedo that has been set in stone for the last four years, Hall’s Corporation sacks a regular on Radio 4’s ‘Now Show’ because he’s not a non-binary, transgender disabled Asian lesbian – or something equally ‘diverse’.

Personally, I found Jon Holmes annoying, unfunny and characteristic of the kind of lame, faux-satirical excuse for comedy that Radio 4 periodically pedals, another product of the bleedin’ obvious gag factory; but that’s beside the point. He’s evidently been fired because he doesn’t fit the Affirmative Action imposed on the BBC by the same class of metropolitan suit that routinely sneers at the common people who voted Leave.

So, the BBC embarks upon another bout of self-flagellation over a deceased ex-employee and hopes the Daily Mail will go easy on it. The door remains open for a brave soul to discard the narrative and present the facts; step forward, seekers of the truth. Oops, it would seem no mainstream TV channel wants you. Why broadcast an exhaustively-researched viewpoint that contradicts the narrative? Imagine the masses having to consider such a contradiction when the story is now so engrained in the collective (false) memory. No, too much to think about when it’s Monday in the morning. Confirm your prejudices with Louis and go to bed content. I’ll be watching ‘Poldark’. Evenin’ all.

© The Editor