NOTHING IS REAL

R + JWorking my way through ye olde ‘Exposure’ series for the first time in at least five years as I upload it to my Patreon site, I came across one instalment in the series the other day that was rather chilling in its Nostradamus-like prescience. This particular episode, produced roundabout 2013/14 (but no later), was a spoof of Channel 4 News and featured a lead story that perhaps explained why satire seems to be so thin on the ground these days. Basically, it announced the government had introduced a new law whereby saying something considered ‘offensive’ in the privacy of one’s home was now a criminal offence, and failure to report knowledge of such a heinous act was also illegal. I did wonder if Nicola Sturgeon had watched said video when it was on YouTube almost a decade ago and thought ‘Hey, that’s not a bad wee idea’. How can one compete in 2021, when reality has replicated parody?

Any prediction of future events in a work of satire is usually accidental; satire by its very nature exaggerates real life and subverts current events by offering a ridiculous slant on them. If current events eventually develop along lines suggested in a satire that was intended to imagine the most outrageous interpretation of, say, contemporary political policy, chances are the satirist is not directly responsible and those who are have no sense of humour. All kinds of wild scenarios are dreamt up in the name of satire, whether the Ministry of Silly Walks or the insane, nonsensical headlines on ‘The Day Today’. I certainly didn’t seriously foresee any government would actually propose a law in which such a subjective subject as causing offence would be pivotal to the increasing encroachment of the state into the private space. But, hey ho, we are living in even stranger days than we were a decade ago, when the foundations for these strange days were being laid and I was evidently picking up on what was happening – without realising where it was going.

One theme that runs through ‘Exposure’ is the infantilisation and mollycoddling of the young, something I continued in a video produced not long after the series ended, and one that remains on YT. This was a trailer for a new BBC3 service known as ‘Uni-Zone’, an Open University-like slot featuring ‘safe space’ learning complete with specially doctored courses and trigger warnings. Academia may have suffered the most high profile pollution of its purpose by this mindset, but the arts have fallen to the artless like the rest of our cultural institutions; the whole raison d’être of literature – especially fiction – is being strangled by it, and now the theatre has retreated back to the sterile playpen of the Lord Chamberlain’s Office, wherein any play perceived as possessing the power to ‘trigger’ a delicate audience is trailed by not merely an onstage announcement before the production begins, but an entire leaflet listing potential ‘triggering’ moments.

A trigger warning, like a movie bearing an X certificate back in the old days, subliminally primes the viewer to expect something disturbing, so anything that appears – however innocuous – can be interpreted as such. Just as those who view the world through the prism of racism see racism in literally everything even when it isn’t there, telling an audience beforehand that they are destined to be disturbed by what they’re about to receive more or less guarantees they probably will be. If one were to take this approach to England’s most revered playwright, one might imagine the likes of ‘Titus Andronicus’, with its rapes, mutilations and cannibalism, would be the first to fall under the triggering spotlight. However, it is his most celebrated love story that has been wrapped in blood-stained cotton wool and served-up to what the producers anticipate as an audience of fragile snowflakes – and at the most prestigious Shakespearean venue of them all, the Globe. Boys and girls, prepare to be traumatised for life…by Romeo and Juliet.

Perhaps it’s telling that the only facet of the play one might consider potentially disturbing to a modern audience – the fact that Juliet is supposed to be thirteen – isn’t considered disturbing enough to the producers, who have instead jumped on the mental health bandwagon and concentrated on the tragic ending. The revised rules of cinematic entertainment under this new world order specify gay characters must be played by gay actors, trans characters by trans actors, disabled characters by disabled actors and so on; the whole point of acting, of one person adopting the identity of another and convincing an audience they are that person for the duration of the performance, is suspended and sacrificed for ‘authenticity’; if live theatre is to emulate the illogical logic of cultural appropriation, the climax of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ therefore demands the onstage suicide of the two leads every night, surely? That’d be correctly authentic for spectators unable to grasp the concept of pretence that is acting, yes? But no! It’s not two fresh faces for each performance! It’s the same ones – and that means they don’t really kill themselves. I want my money back!

However, just in case an audience fails to discern that what they’re watching isn’t genuine – as though they might mistake each confrontation between Montagues and Capulets taking place before them as akin to stumbling upon a mass brawl in a pub car park – the production’s checklist issues the reassuring declaration that everyone is actually pretending. What? I don’t understand. ‘Near the end of the play,’ says this helpful guide, ‘when Romeo drinks poison, the actor pretends to vomit and convulse. This is not real and he is not hurt.’ What? I don’t understand. Apparently, ‘at the end, Juliet shoots herself. This is not real.’ What? I don’t understand. ‘There is stage blood and vomit in this production. It is not real.’ No! ‘There is stage fighting in this production. The violence is not real and should not be copied.’ But isn’t this supposed to be real? What can all this possibly mean? If what we’re seeing isn’t real, what is it? Has some sadistic bastard invented some horrific new art-form to torment and torture us?

Amazingly, this production isn’t aimed at an audience of primary school infants – who might perhaps struggle to differentiate between what’s real and what’s not when it’s taking place outside of their internal imaginations – but proper grownups, or at least the almost-grownup (AKA millennials). Patronising them and crediting them with so little intelligence that they have to be told everyone onstage is pretending makes one wonder what the producers thought their potential punters imagined they were doing when finding themselves sitting in a theatre to watch a play. Even some laughable Legz Akimbo-type student theatre group touring schools and staging little plays about ‘issues’ wouldn’t stoop so low as to assume their audience couldn’t tell the difference between real life and acting. ‘Romeo and Juliet’, like most works by the Bard, is rooted in universal themes allowing for unlimited interpretations over the centuries; the flexibility of their themes can be attuned to whatever happens to be happening within contemporary culture, and in that respect I suppose this particular telling of the star-crossed lovers’ tale is upholding the tradition.

Helpfully, the info sheet accompanying the production offers any distressed audience member the comfort blanket of further info available at the box office, which is presumably now a branch of the Samaritans. A spokesperson for the Globe has stated the 2021 version of the play intends to ‘address problems young people face today’, almost as though no previous generation of young people have ever faced any of the problems the play is based around. ‘As we’ve chosen to focus on mental health,’ the spiel went, ‘we want to provide information to those who may need it.’ In other words, the entertainment factor has been sucked out of the play and what we’re left with is a glorified public information film for the mentally retarded.

© The Editor

Website: https://www.johnnymonroe.co.uk/

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CULTURE CLUBBING

Keith Richards once mused on the reasons why an underground sound from the segregated South crossed the Atlantic and spoke to a generation of white war babies better than any other art form in the 50s. His conclusion was that to ‘get the Blues’, one has to have suffered; and ‘thanks to Adolf’, he observed, Britain had suffered. Another Brit who got the Blues was Eric Burdon of The Animals; recalling an early encounter with Nina Simone, he remembered how the incendiary siren accosted him for having the gall to cover one of her numbers and receive more credit for the cover than she did for the original – something she perceived as classic ‘white theft’. Burdon countered her aggression by revealing his knowledge of how she herself had won plaudits for purloining songs penned by obscure bluesmen who were still working on chain-gangs whilst she was filling Carnegie Hall. Astonished that Burdon was aware of this, Simone softened; both realised they had more in common than that which society had weaponised to separate them. Music – like all art – is colour-blind.

One of Nina Simone’s most celebrated – and repeatedly played – recordings is her bombastic 1965 version of ‘Feeling Good’; both her voice and the production give the track a sexy, snazzy swagger that is jazz on a cinematic scale. But it was written by a couple of British white boys – Leslie Bricusse and his songwriting partner of the time, the multi-talented Anthony Newley. Who was culturally appropriating who – Nina Simone for covering a number penned by white songwriters, or white songwriters for writing in a style derived from the musical roots of Black America? Who gives a f**k? It’s a great song and hers is the definitive version. If popular music had adopted a contemporary Identity Politics approach to prevent the cross-fertilization of culture in the 1960s, Motown would have been confined to the ghettoes, and London would have swung to The Beverly Sisters.

When different artistic genres emanating from different cultures bump into each other and then spend the night together, the fruit of the union is often a hybrid that takes art to an exciting new place altogether. It has always been thus. It’s not about one stealing from the other; it’s about coming together and bridging unnecessary divides; realising these divisions are illegitimately imposed by the artless – just as Eric Burdon and Nina Simone recognised when music united them – is a vital bulwark against the preachers of knowing one’s place and not rising above a station one was designated at birth. To not resist is to seal art in stasis and sign its death warrant.

Attempting to enforce a cultural apartheid in which, say, the colour of the artist’s skin places them in individual boxes that they must remain locked in is a regressive restriction concocted by the creatively philistine. To use one of the most chillingly revealing phrases coined of late, the artist must ‘stay in their lane’. Within this Woke approach to art, to even imagine what it must be like to swap skins and perceive the world from the perspective of someone in another box – the ultimate expression of a creatively fertile imagination – is regarded as heresy. Ironic, really, when we’re simultaneously told that in ‘the real world’ a man can inhabit the persona of a woman and has to be accepted as female; but for an artist’s imagination to inhabit the persona of someone from a different cultural slipstream? Cancel!!!

Were I to personally adopt this credo, I could only listen to brass bands and would have to write stories with characters who are all based on myself and are forbidden to venture beyond their hometown. It ironically echoes the very attitude the practitioners of the Woke manual profess to loath – the Victorian approach to imperial rule that frowned upon the kind of mixing with the natives that the Georgian Empire-builders employed in India when they embraced the indigenous culture of the Subcontinent and took Indian wives. This insidious strain of segregation may have captured cultural institutions and media circles – the once-unmissable Radio 4 arts show ‘Front Row’ is now practically unlistenable as a result of its slavish dedication to the cause; but the art itself should be stubbornly immune, with the artist refusing to have their restless curiosity constrained by rules and regulations that have no place in art.

What I find especially concerning when one considers how creativity is suffering such an onslaught is how so few artists with clout – those who have both the financial means and critical respect to place them above blacklisting – are prepared to put their necks on the line and fight this attack. The arts can be perilous from the perspective of ‘making a living’ and it is to a degree understandable that those on the way up are worried of jeopardising their chances of future earnings; but the established have no excuses. One of the few lone voices making a stand is the novelist and columnist Lionel Shriver, a writer I regard as a real kindred spirit. The British-based American author of ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ has been subjected to the full vindictive nastiness of the cultural Stasi simply because she has had the guts to challenge its increasingly ludicrous dos and don’ts, a list which is added to on a seemingly daily basis.

Lionel Shriver was stirred into action because the most extreme example of Woke thought-policing at its McCarthy-esque worst can currently be found in the field of literature. Publishers of Young Adult Fiction now employ ‘Sensitivity Readers’ to weed out anything they regard as ‘problematic’ before a book goes to print, basically doing what the Lord Chamberlain used to do back in the days of this country’s theatre censorship. Books from the classical canon have been issued with retrospective trigger warnings, whereas new releases are perused with a fine toothcomb. A couple of months ago, the likes of Oprah Winfrey were falling over themselves to praise ‘American Dirt’ by Jeanine Cummins; the book was lauded as a novel for our times in its story of a mother and her young son fleeing the dangers of Mexico and making an illegal crossing into the US. Guess what happened next.

Well, several fellow authors (who should be ashamed of themselves) took to Twitter to criticise Cummins’ ‘stereotypical’ portrayal of Mexican immigrants; and this wasn’t either professional jealousy or legitimate criticism of the kind that might emerge in a book review; this was a deliberate dig at a novelist whose Irish-Puerto Rican lineage presumably disqualifies her from using her imagination to put herself in the mind of a Mexican – y’know, just like that bigoted old Tolkien pretended to speak on behalf of that notoriously discriminated-against minority, the hobbit. Rather than defending the right of the author to write about what the hell she likes, Cummins’ publisher promptly cancelled a planned book tour in the wake of the latest tedious teacup storm. Great to know the industry is backing the writers it creams a disproportionate chunk of royalties from.

If artists could put their own professional concerns to one side and unite to fight this assault on the one thing that put them where they are, their individual futures would be ensured. As it is, by spinelessly kowtowing to a ruthless movement that will take a mile from every inch conceded to it, they are allowing the school bully to pick on the weakest kid in the class in the misguided belief that they will then be spared a kicking. But this kind of crusade has an appetite that can never be fully quenched, and it will eat up everyone in the end if everyone gives in to it. And if mankind stands by and allows its imagination to be taken away by those who have none, all art – and civilisation with it – is doomed.

© The Editor

THE BEST MEDICINE

The return of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ is always welcome, not merely because it is undisputedly one of the funniest TV shows of all time, but because the targets of its humour are so deserving. Astonishingly, it’s now 20 years since the series first appeared on HBO, and when it initially crossed the Atlantic it served as a novel portal for bemused Brits into the American extremes of what used to be called ‘Political Correctness gone mad’. For those unfamiliar with the show (and you should be ashamed of yourselves), it follows the journey of one man through the complex maze of changing social mores in polite (and not so polite) society.

After an on-off career as a stand-up, Larry David established himself as a successful comic writer with the creation of ‘Seinfeld’ in the 90s. Although ‘Seinfeld’ regularly touched on topics that had previously been beyond-the-pale for sitcoms (especially US ones), it had done so within the conventions of a traditional format; when Larry David decided to put himself in front of the camera with ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’, however, he opted to depart the confines of the studio and went for the filmic ‘documentary’-style approach ala ‘The Office’. In ‘Curb’, David plays a fictionalised version of himself and gives vent to his inner demons by saying out loud what most people think; the Larry David of ‘Curb’ basically lacks a bullshit filter and cannot prevent himself from interjecting when anyone else would keep an opinion to themselves. But that’s why we love him.

Living in LA and therefore encountering Hollywood royalty from both the big and small screen, the Larry David of ‘Curb’ runs up against Tinsel Town’s ever-changing checklist of what can and can’t be said in company practically every episode. David’s response to the increasingly dogmatic strictures of the speech police is one of bemusement; but his inability to bite his lip means confrontation of the most inventively foul-mouthed nature is inevitable. Larry has a habit of putting his foot in it, but he never does so from a position of malice, merely understandable confusion.

Surrounded by fastidious practitioners of Woke thinking, Larry is regarded by them as the most un-PC individual on the planet, but he is actually the one character in the show without any prejudice, utterly immune to the pigeonholes that place people in clearly defined groups based on ethnicity, sexuality or gender. This was crystallised during one memorable episode in which he chaperones a blind man on a date with a Muslim woman in a burqa and the three of them end up sharing a raucous meal with a group of special needs car-washers; two members of a golf-club Larry sought to join stumble upon this impromptu gathering and their facial reaction betrays the prejudice that their veneer of social justice usually suppresses in public. In ‘Curb’, Larry David relentlessly exposes such hypocrisy and double standards, and he does so funnier than anyone else; he’s been doing it now for two decades.

Just as ‘Nathan Barely’ satirising a cult of stupidity restricted to a tiny clique of London media twats in 2005 inadvertently prophesised a pernicious trend that would soon spread across the country, Larry David noted what was happening in small showbiz circles long before it infected and polluted the whole of western culture. 20 years ago, nobody imagined the enclosed world David was taking a pot-shot at would eventually colonise everywhere; but it has – especially in this country, where all media outlets and cultural institutions are controlled by those with the loudest voices who all sing from an ever-expanding hymn-sheet of dos and don’ts. In 2020, it would seem we need ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ more than ever.

Yes, it was hard to avoid noticing the weekend was awash with outrage over actor Laurence Fox apparently ‘doing a Nick Griffin’ on ‘Question Time’, the BBC’s once-unmissable debating forum now seemingly on its last legs. Anyone who watched will testify Fox admirably stood his ground and refused to kowtow to the Woke narrative permeating the programme and its panellists; challenging an audience member insistent that a poor little Duchess has been hounded out of the country because the UK is a hotbed of virulent racism, Fox received the customary retort of the regressive left via the playing of the ‘white privilege’ card and shrewdly pointed out that judging him solely on the colour of his skin was racist – which it is; what was it Martin Luther King said about the content of one’s character being the most important factor?

It’s a measure of where we are that one man having the nerve to speak common sense and express the kind of authentically liberal values the majority of people actually live by could be branded far-right for his troubles. Some within the actors’ union Equity are even demanding Fox be subjected to McCarthy-style blacklisting, and his ‘posh-boy’ status is also being attacked. It’s interesting, though, that what this storm in a teacup has shown yet again is how much more the upper-classes and working-classes have in common with each other than either do with the middle-classes; the middle-classes hate both in equal measure – and Woke is inherently middle-class in its imaginary oppression and perpetual victimhood. It’s no coincidence the British electorate chose another posh-boy as their PM just over a month ago.

Laurence Fox was berated by the unelected Shami ‘I won a peerage’ Chakrabarti for not nominating one of the women candidates as his favoured Labour leader; heaven forbid the successor to Corbyn should get the job on merit rather than patronising affirmative action. Rebecca Long-Bailey’s continuation of the Identity Politics agenda in her own predictable response to the tedious Meghan soap opera has simply demonstrated yet again how this stance represents the Labour Party’s estrangement from its traditional supporters perhaps even more than Brexit. But just as Mary Whitehouse could see sex even when it wasn’t there, the far left views everything through the prism of racism (bar the blind spot of anti-Semitism, of course), and it’s been undeniably entertaining watching Grauniad scribes suddenly falling over themselves to defend a privileged pair of millionaires who are beneficiaries of the kind of inherited wealth they’re supposed to be opposed to.

When such smug zealots devote so much energy to crying racism on behalf of a pampered Duchess, it serves to highlight their criminal silence on the ‘wrong kind of victims’ – i.e. those who don’t fit the profile. The tragic consequences of this damaging divide-and-rule approach has been grimly highlighted by the revelations of the so-called ‘grooming gangs’ – or Pakistani Paedophiles, if you prefer – whose decades-long industrial abuse of underage girls in Greater Manchester was allowed to progress unimpeded due to so-called cultural sensitivity. You couldn’t make most of this up; indeed, how can Titania McGrath compete when Sheffield ‘Stasi’ University is recruiting students for paid reporting on the ‘micro-aggressive’ speech and thought crimes of their fellow guinea pigs? The whole Puritan project of Woke is gradually over-stretching to the point where it will (hopefully) eat itself. All we need is Larry David to document its death and we can at least look back in laughter.

© The Editor

HOUSE OF GLASS

So, Bunter’s post as Jezza’s deputy is looking increasingly perilous courtesy of the Momentum faction, is it? Perhaps Karma should be held responsible – not so much instant as slow-burning. Regardless of the motivation behind this move, Tom Watson has had it coming for a long time, not for his opportunistic, Lib Dem-esque stance on Brexit and his shameless positioning of himself as an eventual leadership challenger; but for the disgraceful part he played in the Carl Beech saga. Indeed, who can forget his grandstanding from the backbenches as he sought to make a name for himself at the expense of innocents who were mere obstacles to his ambition?

Recalling Watson’s hysterical performance in promoting a Westminster paedo network that never was, I can’t help but wonder how many vigilantes he inspired into action by legitimising their obsession. I never cease to be suspicious of those who feel the need to advertise a particular virtue to the point whereby one wonders why they’re making such a song and dance about it. Could it be they have something to hide? After all, many’s the time the hard-drive of a self-appointed ‘paedo-hunter’ turns out to be crammed with enough evidence to expose them as being no better than those they purport to be saving our children from. A psychiatrist would no doubt surmise they were suppressing shame over their own repugnant leanings by projecting them onto another individual and thus somehow subconsciously absolving themselves of their wicked thoughts. Which brings us nicely to the previously-squeaky clean apostle of PC politics, Justin Trudeau.

Before we go any further, I must stress I’m not insinuating Canada’s Prime Minister is a closet paedo; no, I am of course referring to the emergence of photographs and videos revealing that a man tirelessly sold as a liberal alternative to the President across the border at one time had something of a party penchant for ‘blacking-up’. Someone like Trudeau Jr, who has made a career out of spouting cringe-inducing Woke sound-bites – once famously using the term ‘people-kind’ (presumably because to say ‘mankind’ was misogynistic) – suddenly being outed as once having had such an outrageous hobby is probably far worse than being found guilty of possessing indecent images. The images that have forced him into a humiliating confession of past misdemeanours are about as indecent as it gets for someone who has done his best to signal every virtue on the 21st century checklist.

With just a month till Canadians go to the polls, Trudeau is struggling to justify the revelations that initially emerged when Time magazine excavated a photograph of him blacked-up (complete with turban) when dressed as Aladdin in 2001. Trudeau wasn’t some frat-boy adolescent prankster at the time, either; he was a 29-year-old teacher, presumably old enough to know better. Evidence of three separate instances of Trudeau in full boot-polish cosmetics are now doing the rounds and Trudeau himself admits he can’t recall how many times he played the comedy ‘Sambo’. Surely such a shameful confession is enough to unleash the familiar hounds to bring down this blatant racist, no?

Strangely, however – as has already been mentioned on Twitter – the dependable David Lammy is nowhere to be seen. Labour’s resident Racism-Finder General is usually first out of the blocks when it comes to pointing the accusatory finger, yet the man who sees race-hate in everything has curiously failed to comment on the subject via social media. But he’s not alone in his mysterious reluctance to condemn the Canadian PM. One of the genuine pleasures when a scandal of this nature breaks is observing how the ideological allies of the accused squirm in their seats and make excuses.

Nesrine Malik, Guardian scribe and ‘Diversity’ darling of London’s chattering classes, excused Trudeau’s actions on account of the fact he was blacking-up nearly 20 years ago, when the act was apparently acceptable. So, unlike allegations of historical sex crimes, there’s a statute of limitations on blacking-up? According to Malik, it was ‘a clumsy, childish, slightly juvenile way of blacking-up’ – Trudeau was 29, remember. ‘If he positions his apology well and contextualises it,’ she said, ‘I think he can dig himself out.’ Malik added – ‘The discourse around blacking-up has only become mainstream quite recently.’ So, that would explain the endless repeats of ‘The Black & White Minstrel Show’ we had to endure for decades after the series was axed in 1978, then. I just wonder how different the reaction of Malik and the rest would have been had the world leader exposed as a closet blackface 20-odd years ago been a certain Donald?

Nesrine Malik also said – ‘There’s two ways that people black-up; one is a deliberate racist way.’ I never realised there was a right way and a wrong way to black-up, but doesn’t such a claim go to the heart of Woke culture, a philosophy built on endlessly shifting sands to suit the fair-weather agenda set by its advocates, and one prone to moving the goalposts depending on the accused. Do we still have to suppress a snigger when Peter Sellers or Spike Milligan adopt comedy Indian accents in the wake of the Trudeau revelations or can we laugh again? Please let us know, for it’s beginning to seem that if there are any standards at all, they’re seeing double more than an alcoholic on his thirteenth whisky.

Don’t worry – the Woke Star Chamber will always let us know what they have decided is now racist, sexist and homophobic, anyway, just so we know what we have to feel guilty about today; but it seems good old Mr Trudeau is being let off with a caution, largely due to his sterling contributions to the cause that some ancient error committed at a time when we were all openly bigoted won’t adversely affect. Well, come on, it was 2001, after all – way back in the Dark Ages when we too busy splitting our sides at ‘Love Thy Neighbour’, ‘Mind Your Language’ and ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’ whilst singing along to Al Jolson and spreading Robertson’s Marmalade on our toast to know we were doing wrong. Those were different days, man.

Yes, Justin Trudeau has been publicly revealed as a bit of an arse; but most of us had already worked that out, and we didn’t need an old image of him blacked-up to come to that conclusion. Perhaps if he hadn’t been so tediously relentless in his ongoing attempts to promote himself as the ultimate, self-flagellating apologist for his wealthy white privilege, he could’ve been cut some slack. Perhaps if he hadn’t signalled his virtue with such holier-than-thou gusto, this storm-in-a-teacup would be recognised as such. But the fact the guilty party is someone who has worn his PC credentials as a T-shirt ever since he ascended to office makes it a big deal. And hilarious.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1689841532

© The Editor

THE WAY WE LIVE NOW…AND THEN

We may hate it, but advertising slogans can often linger. ‘Say it with Flowers’ said Interflora; and, as it happens, whenever I think of Interflora, I think of Interpol. Perhaps the association stems from an obvious gag on something like ‘The Two Ronnies’; many of their gags were obvious, but the obviousness of them was overridden by the comic charm of the performers. Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes, flowers – delivered to the doors of the consummated as well as the unrequited, sometimes motivated by guilt, sometimes by the need to remind someone you love them. They make an ideal house-warming gift, for example, when it comes to a new residence, being as they are the most potent symbols of rebirth and regeneration when love is in the air.

No, I’m NOT going to write about that shameless exhibitionist’s manual known as ‘Love Island’; besides, Nigel Kneale beat me to it by half-a-century with his unnervingly accurate satire on lowest-common-denominator twenty-first century television, 1968’s ‘The Year of the Sex Olympics’. This remarkable example of cultural soothsaying is one of the most uncanny crystal balls in TV history. If you haven’t seen it, do; once you get over the occasionally theatrical acting and groovy 60s aesthetic impression of the future, the way in which it predicts the worst our goggle-box can offer today will evoke associations with everything from ‘Castaway’ and ‘Big Brother’ to the aforementioned STD-through-the-keyhole voyeur-fest on ITV2 and even the grotesque Smartphone suicide-watch trend. The dialogue – short, snappy and uncomfortably familiar in its irritating abbreviations – mirrors Orwell’s belief in how language will eventually be narrowed and compressed into simple sound-bites. The ominous first words on-screen are ‘Sooner than you think…’

The play’s oft-stated division between the privileged and the rest (‘High Drives’ and ‘Low Drives’) inevitably evokes the Us and Them gap that the Brexit vote exposed; but to me it also anticipates the downgrading of one particular demographic in this country – one that is firmly rock bottom on the social scale fifty years later. A recent ‘initiative’ by a leading publisher that sought the input of unpublished authors made it clear who they were looking for. London-based, Oxbridge-educated chattering-class warriors burdened by the unbearable baggage of box-ticking have their preferred minorities to pat on the head and patronise, as novelist Lionel Shriver has bravely pointed out (much to her predictable Twitter crucifixion); and if you happen to emanate from a white working-class background free of further education, forget it. You are very much Low Drive – or ‘Gammon’, if you prefer; it’s the insult it’s OK to eat between meals without ruining your appetite.

For some, it matters not how many Sikhs are photographed with their arms round him, as Tommy Robinson’s EDL past will always brand him a white supremacist; but both sides of the barricades have their own version of the truth and never the twain shall meet. Like similar headline-grabbing stunts by Peter Tatchell, the amateur agent-provocateur tactics of Robinson could be said to be looking for trouble and inviting arrest along with accompanying publicity. But maybe the climate requires such actions in order to receive any acknowledgment within media circles whose contempt for ‘the Gammon’ is evident to anyone bereft of blinkers. Somebody once proclaimed the face of Tommy Robinson will one day feature on a far-flung future bank-note. Another agitator called Thomas – the late Mr Paine – was similarly derided and demonised in his day, yet is viewed rather differently two-hundred years later, so who knows what criteria the Bank of England will employ when it comes to its cover stars of the twenty-second century? A shame Nigel Kneale isn’t around anymore. He probably would.

Another fortune-teller called Karl Marx apparently said ‘The more you have, the less you are’ – a good point if applied to those who measure their worth by the number of material goods they possess; but how is that statement interpreted by the collectivism that contemporary Marx disciples espouse, especially in the Labour Party? I’ve always been averse to collectives, instinctively recoiling from their ‘block vote’ rhetoric; I‘m too much of an individual, never a team player. If I’d been gifted with sporting prowess, I’d have been at home on the tennis court rather than the football pitch. The problem with collectivism is the compulsory sacrifice of the individual voice to the consensus, and that’s just not me, Jeremy.

Jonathan Meades in his recent excellent BBC4 treatise on the uses and abuses of the English language spent a section dissecting the collectivist clichés that arise when eleven men play eleven more; but he primarily focused on the jargon employed by the Law, politics and business to mask true intentions in a tsunami of verbal diarrhoea that is deliberately intended to leave the Gammon crying ‘My brain hurts!’, therefore throwing him back into the primordial embrace of ‘Love Island’. The sad fact is that this works because we allow it to, just as we allow one knee-jerk response to a pair of tits on a lifeboat-man’s mug to damage the public standing of the RNLI, or we allow consensual sex to be reclassified as rape. Makes you proud to be British, doesn’t it – whatever that means.

At one time, it could mean Noel Coward or Anthony Burgess; Margaret Rutherford or Terry Thomas; Tony Hancock or John Arlott; John Osborne or Quentin Crisp; Peter Sellers or Peter Cook; John Betjeman or John Lennon; Ian Nairn or Oliver Postgate. The Great British manufacturing industry wasn’t merely about economics; it was also about individual voices – all lost now to revisionist market forces. We don’t make ‘em like that anymore because we’ve been absorbed into the global village chain-store, flogged at half-price by a new breed of national shopkeepers.

Another neglected gem from the pen of the man who gave us ‘The Year of the Sex Olympics’ was an obscure anthology series produced by ATV called ‘Beasts’; it’s creepy in that unique way only 70s TV can be, set in a Britain when the moribund and the macabre meet. One story concerned a poltergeist in a supermarket, though not the kind of supermarkets we have now; it was a store owned by one of those small regional chains that no longer exist, like Hillard’s or Vivo. Viewing this time capsule recently, I experienced a strange sensation of warmth as childhood brand names flew off the shelf at the height of the petulant spirit’s rage. Rows of Ricicles probably wouldn’t be within the poltergeist’s sights today, no doubt censored by finger-wagging government guidelines on sugar intake – let alone a version featuring Florence and Dougal on the front of the box.

And so, restlessness forced me outdoors a month ago; I went for a meandering walk – and if you’ve made it to this paragraph you’ll know by now I’m good at meandering. Unfortunately, simple exercise (physical or mental) no longer seems a valid enough reason to stroll alone. When I ended up on a local park, my aversion to collectives worked against me; I felt increasingly self-conscious re my sore thumb solo status, surrounded as I was by women and dogs. I had neither with me, though I came home to the ghosts of both. And cats. But I end where I began, thinking of flowers as potent symbols of rebirth and regeneration. Maybe I should get some. Life may now be a silver medal, but at least I can make it smell nice for a few days.

© The Editor

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

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

ASHES TO ASHTRAYS

Authority, pomposity, hypocrisy – what I consider to be the key trio of perfectly valid targets to satirise, and the ones I persistently aim at via my YouTube video sideline; if anyone ever takes umbrage because I’ve somehow gone where no so-called ‘comedian’ on TV dares to go in these sensitive days, that’s a fault in them, not me. I don’t claim to be breaking new ground, nor do I believe I’m doing anything that wasn’t once commonplace. Maybe my stuff only appears risqué because the alternative today is so lame, having had the fire in its belly dampened by committees, focus groups and the overwhelming craving not to offend. ‘Offensive comedy’ was once the province of deliberately belligerent comics like Bernard Manning, but now any comedy that fails to adhere to the unwritten rules of what can and can’t be said is placed in the Manning or (even worse) Chubby Brown bracket.

Comedy on television used to be rather fearless and now it’s fearfully toothless – as are the broadcasters who don’t want to be battered by a Twitter storm so therefore play it safe with Michael McIntyre for the mums and dads, whilst panel shows do likewise for the kids with their virtue-signalling stand-ups. It’s a pity this is the state of affairs we’ve fallen into because there’s such an abundance of targets asking for it today, yet we’re somehow ‘not allowed’ to poke fun at them. Bollocks to that. Did Chaplin relent from satirising Hitler in ‘The Great Dictator’ at a time when the US hadn’t entered WWII and was still trying not to be beastly to the Germans? No, he didn’t. Why should we be so bloody cautious almost 80 years later?

Of course, there are always politicians, and politicians are an absolute gift to a satirist – they fulfil the criteria re the trio named and shamed at the beginning of this post and always have, bringing out the best in everyone from Swift to ‘Spitting Image’; but even then there are rules as to which of them we’re allowed to ridicule. White male Tory – fine; black female Labour – ooh, racist and misogynistic. No-go. Yet Diane Abbott offers up so many open goals, how can anyone resist? There’s no need to descend to the lazy online level of simian-based insults (which those who use them are too stupid to realise gives her additional ammunition); Abbott is such a Grade-A car-crash every time she opens her mouth that it only takes a little imagination to nail her.

In this week’s strange climate, the lines one can cross have been reinforced with renewed mortification, beginning with the outrage over Michael Gove’s Weinstein joke – which he, naturally, had to apologise for. It ends with Harriet Harman, the high-priestess of po-faced Political Correctness for the last twenty-odd years, exposing the double standards inherent in her agenda on live television as she shared the sofa with Michael Portillo on ‘This Week’. Quoting a rag-mag gag from her student days, Harperson highlighted her smug arrogance in assuming Andrew Neil wouldn’t take offence at a blatantly anti-Semitic joke before she told it. There’s no real need to recite it, as it’s all over Twitter and YT already; but had the joke been about black people, Muslims, women or ‘The LGBT Community’ (as Owen Jones likes to call it, as though it’s a stop on his bus route) and had been told by a Tory, Harman would have headed the queue demanding an apology, a resignation and a public execution.

The context in which Harperson told the joke was, ironically, a discussion on the subject of what can and can’t be joked about, but it backfired on her spectacularly. One could be generous and suggest Harman was simply stupid in telling it, though I think it’s more likely she didn’t regard its potential offensiveness as being on a par with Michael Fallon once touching Julia Hartley-Brewer’s knee. It’s interesting that the main offence taken by the Labour side on social media was the fact that Andrew Neil then told his guest to shut up. What a sexist bastard! But a party whose leader has hung out with Hamas and then conducted a belated investigation into its anti-Semitic elements (the main outcome of which appeared to be Shami Chakrabarti’s elevation to the House of Lords) evidently doesn’t regard Jews as being in the same ‘worthy victim’ category as the rest of its pets. Mind you, there are so many Labour seats in the midlands and north of England dependent on the Muslim vote that it’s no real surprise.

One overlooked aspect of this week’s Westminster sex frenzy has been the contrast between the allegations levelled at politicians from both sides of the House. The Tory stories in the main seem to be ‘Carry On Conservative Party’, whereas the Labour members to have had fingers pointed in their direction sound far more serious. Only today, the party has suspended Luton North MP Kelvin Hopkins pending an investigation into his conduct towards a young activist two years ago. It goes without saying that we haven’t heard every allegation yet and there could well be one or two alleged rapes emanating from the Tory camp as well; but, as ever, glass houses remain vulnerable to those a little too eager to throw stones at their neighbours.

Anyway, time for a commercial break…

© The Editor

HANDS, KNEES AND BOOMPS-A-DAISY

Unfortunately, it’s one of the recurring stories of our times and one that it becomes increasingly difficult to say something new about whenever it rears its ugly head; once again, the headlines keep us in a state of permanent déjà-vu and the seriousness of the crime is almost diminished through terrible repetition. Sadly, we’re back where we’ve been so many times before, but there’s no way it can be avoided; the grim truth demands our attention. Yes, Damian Green allegedly touched a woman’s knee.

In other news, New York experienced a major terror incident when a Jihadist drove a van onto the sidewalk and ploughed down pedestrians and cyclists alike, killing eight of them before being apprehended. Miraculously, he wasn’t shot dead by cops and survives to face the music, though the biggest concern for some is inevitably not the bodies cluttering up Manhattan’s pavements but an anticipated upsurge in ‘Islamophobia’. Anyway, enough of that trivial little domestic business across the pond. Onto more serious matters.

The journalist and broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer claimed Defence Secretary Michael Fallon once touched her knee and she made it clear in no uncertain terms what she would do to him if his hand came into contact with said body part again. Fallon withdrew. Fallon is someone who previously edged Philip Hammond in the contest to decide the dullest member of the Cabinet, yet this moment of indiscretion has suddenly and remarkably made the grey man moderately interesting. I doubt few of us would have been surprised had Boris stood accused of such a dastardly deed, but Michael Fallon? Lock up your daughters, especially if they happen to be young party activists; just ask Labour.

It’s interesting that a professional political class which has unquestionably supported DPP Alison Saunders’ cynical crusade to up the rape conviction statistics by broadening the legal definition of sexual assault is now being confronted by the ramifications of this support. The Saunders approach is all fine and dandy if some pleb has the finger of suspicion aimed at him, but the problem with legal definitions is that they’re supposed to be egalitarian and don’t distinguish between class, wealth and social standing. Granted, the ruthless cuts to legal aid have severely limited Joe Public’s ability to defend himself when confronted by an allegation of a sexual nature, but those whose incomes can feather the most exclusive law firm nests probably never imagined they’d be placed in a situation where they’d have to deal with the grim reality of everything they failed to challenge the wisdom of.

William Hague urged caution on Radio 4’s ‘Today’ this morning when it comes to believing the authenticity of every allegation aimed at a public figure, though I don’t remember similar caution being advised by Westminster when the Yewtree witch-hunt was rounding up showbiz stalwarts from the 70s and 80s; back then, the ‘I believe her’ mantra was being recited from every political platform. Operation Midland attracted more criticism in that its targets weren’t quite as irrelevant as Yewtree’s hapless has-beens, though despite a grovelling after-the-event apology from Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe as the outgoing Met Chief sought to cover his back, the damage done to the likes of Harvey Proctor remains a shameful example of what can happen when the powers-that-be allow our police force to be politicised by an inherently merciless and perennially unsatisfied agenda.

The sudden downfall of a liberal left Hollywood darling like Kevin Spacey shows how when the ‘I believe her’ (or in Spacey’s case, ‘him’) rule is applied to everyone rather than a select few, it’s actually not very nice at all. Holding up a placard or wearing a T-shirt bearing a nifty hash-tag slogan is easy when you imagine you’re above the net being cast; when that net is widened and you risk being entangled in it, the experience of thousands of nonentities denied your privileges is brought into extremely sharp focus as the irresponsible gamble of not questioning the placing of a clumsy pass on a level playing field with a brutal rape is writ horrifyingly large. The system that has promoted and repeatedly failed to challenge this fallacy can eject its favoured sons without a second thought if it means the whole system risks being tarnished with the same unsavoury accusations. There must be a lot of leading men in Tinsel Town consulting their lawyers at the moment.

When OJ Simpson was on trial for the murder of his ex-wife way back in 1994/95, the defence shrewdly played the race card, garnering wide African-American support in the process as focus shifted away from the actual crime itself and onto the broader subject of US race relations; their client was rewarded by walking away from court a free man, hailed as the victim of the trial as opposed to the cause of it. One cannot but wonder if Bill Cosby had been accused of murder rather than rape that the voices noticeably silenced in their support for one of the entertainment industry’s great black pioneers might have been heard in a way they weren’t as, one-by-one, women came forward to accuse him whilst the system that had celebrated him for decades denounced him.

The ruling elite have sat back and allowed this state of affairs to develop unchecked for a long time because they imagined they were immune to it. In their desperate search for votes and eagerness to be seen endorsing various pseudo-‘liberal’ causes, they have gleefully given the thumbs-up to dubious moral movements without reading the small print; and now they are finally paying the price for their stupidity. Well, more fool them. I should imagine many little men rotting away in a prison cell on the strength of an allegation propelled towards a guilty verdict via a climate fully endorsed by the political class will be short on sympathy; and who could blame them?

© The Editor

STOP THE WORLD, I WANT TO GET OFF

Ooh, where to start? A weekend of finger-pointing and retrospective accusations as summer’s ‘silly season’ is extended into the autumn has left me spoilt for choice when attempting to document the insane landscape we inadvertently inhabit. It began with that Hollywood PR exercise masquerading as a BBC TV chat-show presented by Graham Norton. Adam Sandler, one of those actors whose career provokes the question – ‘What the f**k have you ever done?’ – appeared alongside Emma ‘Miss Jean Brodie’ Thompson and actress Claire Foy, apparently placing his hand on the knee of the latter throughout the ‘interview’, something that provoked frothing-at-the-mouth hysteria on Twitter. A friend then sent me a leaked video of unknown origin in which another superstar of similar charisma – Ben Affleck – was mauling an MTV-style interviewer of Eastern European accent as she sat on his lap, a clip that climaxed with Affleck’s impersonation of a ‘spaz’. Suffice to say, he came across as an arrogant slimeball, albeit one that Tinsel Town’s system positively encourages. See also Harvey Weinstein.

This was followed by the dubious exposure of an online ‘closed group’ of ladies gossiping about various Westminster stalwarts that it’s best to avoid sharing a lift or taxi with. Lecherous old MPs groping young lobbyists, secretaries and PR trainees young enough to be their daughters? Jesus! Who knew? Call Mr Profumo! It’s not exactly Cecil Parkinson impregnating his secretary, but it’s what passes for a political sex scandal in 2017; hot on the heels of Jared O’Mara being suspended by the Labour Party following the publication of comments he made 15 years ago, we need to be vigilant, sex toys and ‘Sugar Tits’ pet-names not permitting.

Then we were told the actor who plays Todd Grimshaw on ‘Coronation Street’, the soap’s first openly gay character (currently in a relationship with a rather wet vicar on the show), has been shown the same exit door that illustrious predecessors such as Peter ‘Len Fairclough’ Adamson were shown for more serious crimes in more innocent times. Bruno ‘Todd Grimshaw’ Langley’s own crime was allegedly sexually assaulting a young lady in a Manchester night-club, though he received his cards before the allegation became a charge, suggesting the powers-that-be at Granada were waiting for an excuse to boot him out, anyway. This revelation broke more or less simultaneously with the news that a Five Live broadcaster has also been suspended on the basis of allegations he was guilty of letting his fingers do the walking where his female colleagues were concerned.

And we round off this supremely silly weekend with the convenient full-circle headline of another member of the Hollywood Royal Family being accused of a foul deed in the dim ‘n’ distant past. This time, it was the turn of none other than Kevin Spacey – someone whose off-screen activities have evaded my own personal ‘gaydar’; Spacey pre-empted an allegation of inappropriate behaviour with an underage actor in the 80s by belatedly coming out. Spacey is someone whose career has largely consisted of commendable efforts on celluloid (unlike Ben Affleck) and also included a stint as guv’nor of the Old Vic in London. Curiously, considering how ‘right-on’ the ruling elite of Hollywood are, they still have a problem with out-and-proud actors, casting resolutely straight leading men as gay characters in the likes of ‘Philadelphia’ and ‘Milk’, whereas we in Blighty have a lengthy list of gay Lord and Lady thespians, even if they tend to play it straight when cast in California.

So, what conclusions do we draw from several days of post-Weinstein allegations and accusations? Well, in the case of Ben Affleck, irrefutable evidence that he’s a bit of a prick is out there in cyberspace, so anything unsavoury levelled against him has pretty solid proof to go on re how he behaves in the company of young women. Kevin Spacey’s conduct is slightly different in that it took place before the days when everything was recorded and documented online, yet he’s still been forced into belatedly admitting his bedroom preferences courtesy of the imminent media storm. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe whatever men or women get up to behind closed doors is their own business and has no relevance to their profession unless they choose to be defined by it; personally, I don’t care if Kevin Spacey is gay or straight, but it evidently matters to media whores deprived of genuine scandal, so Spacey bows to their God-given authority before they exercise it.

Five years on from the tsunami of allegations triggered by the despicable Mark Williams Thomas’s ‘Exposure’ hatchet-job on Jimmy Savile – which served as a handy smokescreen to obscure the genuine outrage of Rotherham and Rochdale – we appear to have reached a point whereby any authentic act of deplorable misogyny aimed at the opposite sex by the male of the species has been overshadowed by the abuse of descriptive terms for actual assault, applied as they are with cavalier nonchalance to clumsy attempts at seduction, making men believe that any move on their part will be labelled ‘rape’. Perhaps it’s laying the ground for western women to adopt the burqa as a modern-day secular chastity belt, duped into the illusion of emancipation by the propaganda. Who knows? We are the dead, as someone once said. But maybe there’s life after death after all. Fingers crossed!

© The Editor