Thursday, November 09, 2006

Poison Penpushers

Many congratulations to American readers today for managing to turn your juggernaut of a nation hard’o’port. If you could set a course for sanity now please No. 1 and lock the Clinger-on up in the brig, the world would be a much cheerier place. Would that we had the opportunity to do the same but our left blinker is not working at the moment. Sadly, the same cannot be said for our straight ahead blinkers which are frighteningly functional. I know it’s not generally considered safe to wake up a sleepwalker but feel free to give us a good shake someone, anyone?

At least in America they’ve got one central figure of hate on which to focus and the belief that if you can get rid of him, a fresh start is just a visit from Rentokil away. In Britain we would require a very large broom indeed and there is always the feeling that the stench is actually coming from the pipes rather than a dead mouse behind the fridge.

Last night I watched the final episode in the first series of The Amazing Mrs Pritchard, a Capraesque BBC drama about a shop manager who sweeps into power as Prime Minister on the promise that she will never, ever lie to the public. Mrs Pritchard or ‘Ros’ as she is affectionately known, becomes aware a year into her premiership that her accountant husband has laundered money in the distant past. A classic risk assessment exercise follows in which Ros’s original ideals of honesty and transparency suddenly look naïve in the face of loss of power. Where have we heard this before? The cliffhanging denouement has Ros leaving a headmistressy ‘See me’ note for her hapless hubby. We do not learn his fate.

Series creator Sally Wainwright was apparently so pissed off with party politics that she nearly entered the fray herself last election time but decided to pen this political fantasy instead. Probably just as well she didn’t run for parliament as the merest hint of a moral dilemma has sent her scuttling for the cover of a fictional scoreless draw. Like we need another one of these ethical chameleons!

The series hasn’t been popular so there is little chance of her having to resolve the crisis. In the event of a second series, Ros would be left with two choices. She could try the Tessa ‘Scowl’ Jowell method of divorcing her errant husband and pretending she never knew him that well to start with. Alternatively, she could claim she knew nothing and hope the media get sick of asking. This is the method favoured by most politicians. A red face is not an admission of guilt, rather too much claret at lunch. Either way, it wouldn’t make for a very interesting series as it would be just like watching the BBC news or Spooks without the explosions.

It raises an interesting issue for the more pensive among us who have too much time on our hands, obviously. I am wondering about the moral weight of ‘intent’. Last month I reported on Bournemouth Tory councillor David ‘Cuttlefish’ Clutterback who was pilloried for mass emailing his joke about gay animals entering Noah’s Ark. The look of sheer hopelessness on his face was all the proof I needed that this guy had no idea he had done anything wrong. My question would be this – does that make him better or worse than say Sacha Baron Cohen or Ricky Gervais who make a lot of money from commercialising prejudice and getting other people to pay money to collude in it? If you tap your nose and wink before you say something appalling about an oppressed group, does that make it all right? If ignorance were a crime in this country, most people would be inside, surely.

This week the stocks were erected for another Tory councillor Eleanor ’Contra’ Bland, who indiscreetly hit the forward button when this little gem came her way.

‘I come for visit, get treated regal,
So I stay, who care I illegal?
I cross border, poor and broke,
Take bus, see employment folk.
Nice man treat me good in there,
Say I need to see welfare.
Welfare say, "You come no more,
We send plenty cash right to your door."
Welfare cheques, they make you wealthy,
NHS, it keep you healthy!’

(extract from Illegal Immigrant’s Poem – all over the internet)

‘Contra’ unwisely chose the ‘Scowl’ defence and blamed her hubby, not realising apparently that whereas it is quite respectable for women in politics to punt allegations of financial impropriety to their shady spouses – people expect it - you can only reasonably blame your hate crimes on your five year old who accidentally downloaded this filth when she was supposed to be installing RealPlayer.

The people who obviously won’t be laughing are the asylum seekers we send home to murderous dictatorships who promptly disappear. Nobody actually moves country in anticipation of a worse life. Your legal status as a ‘genuine asylum seeker’ depends entirely on some arbitrary decision-making body agreeing you have suffered enough for the fine second chance of living in a rat-infested tower block on the outskirts of Glasgow. Someone should also tell prospective economic migrants to Britain that the ‘nice man’ down at the social retired in 1951. On the question of intent, here’s a little snippet from poet laureate contender Carol Ann Duffy’s 1989 poem ‘Translating the English’.

Welcome to my country! We have here Edwina Currie
and The Sun newspaper. Much excitement.
Also the weather has been most improving
even in February. Daffodils. (Wordsworth. Up North.) If you like
Shakespeare or even Opera we have too the Black Market.
For two hundred quids we are talking Les Miserables,
nods being as good as winks.

It’s easy to draw the conclusion that it’s OK to rubbish immigrants if you a) make money off it, b) are being deliberately ironic which is the cornerstone of British cleverness, c) are so rich and/or cool that people are more afraid of offending you than they are of contributing to the oppression of minorities. Are both of these verses racist or neither? You decide…


Anonymous said...

Dambusters Dont ask me why but as a child I was facinated by this movie and the exploits of the aircrew involved. I've read that Guy Gibson survived the raid toured america and was then shot down again on a seperate raid allegedly by FRIENDLY fire, that's an expression I never understood....

Anonymous said...

Dambusters Peter Jackson the director of Lord of The Rings is remaking the classic 1954 British War Move The Dambusters I read that the movie is to be made in New Zealand on a budget of 120 Million usd! Anyone know WHRE it is going to be made or who's staring in the movie? Thanks a lot

That's so pants said...

Anons: You might be interested in my post of 11th September 2006 where I invoke the Dambusters - also one of my favourite childhood films. My Dad was aircrew in WW2. I also loved Twelve O'clock High and the spin off TV series. Anyway, enough of this nostalgia - just to get us back on track, you might recall that Gibson had a dog called 'Nigger'. In recent TV screenings of Dambusters the soundtrack becomes muffled when Gibson is calling the dog so you get 'Here boy, here wfwfwwfwfwfwfwf.' I think it would be a simple matter to rename the dog 'Digger' and dub that onto the original soundtrack (I know, it's very Australian but it does work). It would be a whole lot less painful than digging up the poor old wing commander and trying him for hate crimes.

Grunge Girl said...

Thanks very much. We stateside are pleased with how the day went too. Love your blog btw

Jo-Jo said...

Hey - I wasn't expecting this but here goes. Dont you have to look at whats on the page rather than what you call intent? We cant know the persons intent. In this case you have to say both are racist because their making fun of immigrants.

Uncle of Borat said...

Borat is very funny no yes.

Ben said...

You really don't like Tessa Jowell do you Noosa?

That's so pants said...

Ben - I think I know who you are so stop it, now.