Thursday, February 22, 2007

School of Rock

Tony is a phoney and Gordon is a moron. I don’t care who knows I think it either. I hate them because they killed hope. All through the Thatcher years, you could at least dream that when we finally got rid of the Tories, there would be a golden age of social reform in which the health service would again be the jewel in the crown of the welfare state and actually prioritise the fixing of sick people as opposed to the fudging of planning applications for apartment blocks to be erected on the sites of boarded up hospitals.

The vision of an education system dramatically reversed from its nosedive into wanton illiteracy and innumeracy inspired us to keep darning our frayed ideals with the kind of ‘make do and mend’ spirit and determination that had not been seen since the blitz. There was hope that the crumbling inner cities would be rescued in the nick of time, just before Steven Spielberg managed to buy them up for a neo-nostalgia series of ‘Escape from…’ movies. Kurt Russell was already on standby, as was a hologram of Donald Pleasance.

When the empress of evil imploded in 1990, the Tories were considerably weakened. By 1992 they had been in power for thirteen long years. We knew we just had to hang on a tiny smidge longer. But then there was what Lemony Snickert might have described as a series of unfortunate events. Labour should not have lost the 1992 election. They were up against a man so singularly remiss in the charisma department that his unremittingly grey Spitting Image puppet had absolutely no defining characteristics apart from a dramatic overbite and huge specs. He had never won an election and he was a prime minister without any discernible personality. This turned out to be his saving grace since no personality at all is infinitely preferable to a leader whose public persona falls somewhere considerably further along the eccentricity scale from Basil Brush. Who could forget the beer-curdling disgrace of Neil Kinnock’s rallying war cry,

‘Let me hear you say Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch’

I was never again able to witness someone air punch without calling to mind that horrible sight.

When an everyman by the name of John Smith was elected leader, a glimmer appeared. As an interesting historical curio, he turned out to be the last Labour leader to have a conscience that was demonstrably human but, unfortunately, he didn’t think to bequeath it to anyone before he rather selfishly popped his clogs suddenly in 1994. Then there was the infamous deal struck in the Granita Restaurant between Gordon ‘Scrooge McDuck’ Brown and Tony ‘Blah Blah’ Blair.

Succession passed to Blah Blah over the Chianti without the bother of a fair and open contest, which brings us up to the present day and a status quo so stalwart, it is of geological interest. In fact, prominent earth scientists are already proposing that the fusion be recognised as Blairite Brownstone. The relationship does seem to obey many of the fundamental principles of geology:-

  • The principle of intrusive relationships – probably don’t need to elaborate too much on this but CCTV, biometric passports, vehicle tracking to name just a few.
  • The principle of uniformitarianism - a shame about the departure from the original spirit which was ‘the present is the key to the past’. I personally think that the Blairite Brownstone take of ‘the present is a gift’ is an over-simplification.
  • The principle of superposition – the only argument here is who is on top?
  • The principle of fawnal succession – didn’t quite go to plan. It appears a certain party felt they fawned a little longer than the penne al forno agreement required.

Having mapped the lie of this land, what is an equality-loving socialist to do? I have to ask the question – why did a government that assumed the mantle of a reassuringly bland Tory prime minister for no other significant reason than the general public fancied a change, feel the need to impose all the worst instruments of state that even the Eastern Bloc abandoned nearly twenty years ago while abandoning every socialist principle ever written that we tea cake eating Fabians might have rather enjoyed conforming to?

This is what pisses people off. A government that can’t articulate, doesn’t like to be criticised, won’t listen to anything other than its own reheated rhetoric and makes it blatantly apparent that it hates us and insists that Britain would be perfect if only we rabble would do what we are told, has clearly lost the plot and needs to be popped into the nearest recycle bin with Danielle Steel’s cast off husbands and plot outlines. It really doesn't matter what badge it's wearing. If it quacks like a McDuck...

I’m sick of lectures from insider journalists like Polly Toynbee and Martin Kettle who self appoint as official 'critical friends' and presume to filter selective criticism to government while wagging a cautionary finger at traditional Labour voters like me and threatening the return of the Tories if we don’t demonstrate unconditional loyalty, no matter how far it departs from morality as we know it. Well Polly put the Kettle on and consider my bluff called. I don’t care if they get voted out. I’m not that afraid of the Tories any more – the will to fight and the will to live are, after all, closely aligned. Whooppee. The rock is the hard place. Anyone for tea cake?

Jack Black in School of Rock - a great moment in personal politics.


Ms Melancholy said...

It's so good to have you back. And I know what you mean....I still remember the joy watching Labour win after the joyless Thatcher years. We stayed up all night hooting with laughter as Tory after Tory lost their seats. We had a friend with us, and her mobile rang after the Portillo count. She laughed a lot, saying "yes, wasn't it fantastic" and when she hung up told us that she had been talking to Roy Jenkins. Everyonewas high on it. Who would've predicted such immense disappointment would follow? Thatcher abandoned consensus politics and New Labour have taken it dizzying heights. Where do we go now?

Ms Baroque said...

Jack Black for Prime Minister, I say.

I saw Stephen Frears' The Queen the other night - I think it is utterly brilliant. While it doesn't trace the decline of optimism as you've just outlined it, it does take its one moment in time and throw out lots of strands...

One reason it's such a dazzling film is that we are again at a crux - like your Granita moment, and don;t think I don't think of that every time I walk past that place. This is the time to be asking ourselves these questions.


They do hate us, Pantastical. They hate us so much it simply takes the breath away. They can muster little more than a sneering contempt for honest dissenters. On a good day.

It is relentlessly depressing and dispiriting. I think I've told you before that I've never actually voted Labour - my indecision on these matters usually finds me placing the X beside the name of some no-mark Green with a crackpot or mildly fascist agenda - but was nevertheless briefly intoxicated by the prospect of change, the hope that this lot would be different. Well, they're not. And this realisation is crushing. I think, almost unbelievably, that they might actually be worse.

I share your hearty sickness with the likes of Polly Toynbee. How does one achieve such peerless and blinkered arrogance? She seems to think that we are just not trying hard enough, that we just don't get it.

But we do get it. That's the problem.

A searing and depressing post, Ms Pants. You know by now, I hope, that my use of the word "depressing" is not intended as an insult. Far from it.

Kind regards etc....

That's so pants said...

Hi Ms M - I feel very sorry for people like Roy Jenkins. I've only seen my hopes ridiculed - that was his life. He was on question time the other night and refused showed enormous restraint and dignity I thought - given his position.

Ms B - well, yes, that would be fun but he did sort of lie to get that job in the school - maybe that could be overlooked since he would make everything fun again, AC/DC notwithstanding.

Mr PE - I understand what you mean about the 'depressed' aspect. Sometimes it's good to see that you are not alone with these thoughts. Actually I haven't voted Labour in the last two elections. Mine is a very safe Labour seat and I really like our MP to but I did the 'send a message thing' by voting Green. I think Polly Toynbee is extremely knowledgeable and I've read both her books which are quite critical of the government's failings in some of its core objectives - specifically alleviating poverty. the issue seems to be one of trust and, as Ms M points out, the permanent abandonment of consensus politics. It's all very well for Blah Blah to say now, 'I think people elected us to get on with the job of running the country' when their focus group approach lets them down. That was not the deal when they came to power. They were going to be open and transparent. Now they've done things even Thatcher would have blanched at. Politics never used to be that difficult for ordinary folks to understand. If that situation's changed then they should just say and we can vote with that in mind.

GoAwayPlease said...

Yes ms pants 'voting Green' to send them a message, and also the voting style that Periodic Englishman said he has, pretty much describes my own.

The highlight of The Queen movie was the goggle eyed curtsey executed by the Cherie character; and my other best moment was the 2 Monarchs Of The Glen resigning themselves to their next scene, and finally! A Mirren movie where she doesn't get her kit off!

GoAwayPlease said...

oh and
Rock ON Ms Pants.

That's so pants said...

Hi GAP - Can't wait to see the film - maybe I'll get time next week if I can drag myself away from felling innocent narrators and sticking it to the man for long enough.

Matt said...

Lovely to have you back Ms Pants.

I agree New Labour have been a disappointment but I'm still scared of the Tories. When they win, I don't think we'll notice any difference to begin with but then once they're settled my prediction is that these will be some very dark days indeed.

Oh and PS my favourite moment in The Queen is when her Maj runs up the stairs to see her Mum and asks the footman or whoever he is in the hall "Is Queen Elizabeth up yet?"

Reading the Signs said...

so - has anyone else been shot? Felled? And is there such a thing as an innocent narrator?

That's so pants said...

Hi Matt - Yes I know. As much as I fantasise about Boris Johnson as PM - mostly because I once nearly ran over him in my car as he was erratically weaving through the back streets of Islington and wouldn't it be delicious to think I could have altered fate, I am sure they will be worse because they were before. Am I the only person left on the planet who has not seen 'The Queen?' That must be rectified this week.

Hi Signs - I am afraid I have now acquired the taste for blood. I suppose if I want Daniel Craig to play Ben I have to grunge him up a bit now don't I?


Amen to that, Pants. And you have the edge over me on the Polly Toynbee thing - I never even knew she had written a book, let alone two of the things.

I suppose, all things considered, it is rather unfair to single her out, but she remains so visible and unbending that it is sometimes hard not to. And she seems just a little pleased with her "insider" status. I do read her stuff (in the papers), though, and listen (gobsmacked) as she bends our ears on whatever show she pops up on. I feel like I inhabit a different world. And I feel an abject despondency descend as I behold the case for the defence. Are these people awake?

But mainly, it is the scale of the disappointment I feel that I find so hard to articulate. It feels momentous. Things no longer seem possible, as hope twitches limply and dies. It is all TOO huge and crushing.

You'll be happy I called round to brighten your day, no doubt. But really. This time it feels personal, and that is so very much harder to bear.

Please don't get me started on "transparency" or Focus Groups.

Anyhoos, hope you're feeling a wee bit better now, Pantasmagorical, and that the book is coming along nicely. In fact, I hope that EVERYTHING is coming along nicely. Yes. Why not?

Kind regards etc....

That's so pants said...

Hi Mr PE - My you are turning into an old softie! 'It is all TOO huge and crushing.' - How hearbreakingly true that is. P Toynbee has written too very good books on New Labour progress - 'Better or Worse' and 'Hard Work : Life in Low Pay Britain'. The latter is an account of her experiment in living on the Clapham Park (council) Estate and working at a series of low paid, unskilled jobs. It is revealing, not least of all because of how shocked she was to discover how miserable life really is for a large section of our society. My beef is that for all the talk about giving everyone 'a voice', there are plenty of leftie journalists who believe that criticism of Government should be controlled so as to alleviate the risk of it losing power. I say why shouldn't it lose power if it is so incapable of exercising it with competency, dignity and honesty?


Agreed. There is no earthly reason that a government should be able to hold on to power for no other reason than it wants to. It does, you're right, feel a little bit like calling the bluff of the doom and gloom merchants to simply say "okay, then, no problem, we'll take our chances with a different mob" - and I like that. How dare they presume to try to scare us into (obedient) line? Makes me mad, that does, Pants.

The Harold Pinter quote...

‘There's a very low anger that resides in any respectable, intelligent person in this society about what goes on, and how impotent we seem to be to correct what goes on, and how we give power to people who don't deserve to possess power because they abuse it, and manipulate it, and treat people with contempt, and treat international law with contempt.' beautiful and properly hits the mark, scratches an itch, helps....whatever. I have stolen it and reproduced it in full, right here in your comments section. This means that I will be able to read it as I hang about fretfully waiting for your answer to the following question: are you okay?

You last posted on the 28th of February (thanks for calling me "lovely", by the way - so true) and I have not seen you around anywhere since.

I was going through the blog of Reading The Signs last night (outstanding) and saw that you had made a few comments. In one of them, you said that you always tried to warn people - your fans, your weeping fans - in advance if you were planning on taking a break. I'm not sure that I have seen you do so this time, Ms Pants, and so again - are you okay?

I may just have overlooked something, true, but it would be nice to know how you're getting along. You mentioned recently about taking it easy, but then seemed to be back in the swing. Anyway, I have the patience of a saint (and the quote from Pinter) and will drop back into this space right here, every day from now on in, until you see fit to quell and dispel this gathering sense of unease.

God. I really am going soft. What a do-gooder.

Kind regards etc....

Jesus of Nazareth


Morning Missing Person - trying hard to put Argentina from my mind when calling you this - I brought candles today. All vigils require such things. I just need to think of some songs to sing outside your window now.

It suddenly occurs to me that if and when you return, there may very well be quite a long list of "letters" from yours truly - all (potentially) for public consumption. I will look unwell in the head, more so than normal, even. I think I can just about live with this, however.

All we are saaaaaaying, is give Pants a chance.....

Hmm. Not so sure about that one. I'll get to work on something better, more apt, less dull and repetitive.



Hmm. That would be the problem, I suppose, with comment moderation being enabled. I can't read the Harold Pinter quote I dragged in here behind me a day or so ago. Of COURSE I can't. How would I ever have been able to? What is WRONG with me?

I may need to start dating these things (07/03/07 today) because I notice that the dates don't show up on comments left here. I really don't want to make myself look any stranger than is strictly necessary.

This is the third day in a row that I have visited. I think. Certainly I was here yesterday. Anyway, I just thought that future blog historians (or the police) might like to know this.

How are you doing today, MIssing Person?

Big kisses and inappropriate petting from Ireland...

(I'm hoping this new sleazy approach will provoke a reaction, a rebuke, a banning order. ANYTHING.)

Be well.


Sly move, Pantastical. Now I look properly demented. That would be the old Pinter quote then, up above me there, gleaming. You know, the one that I said I would never be able to see because....well, whatever. So now, unless I am very much mistaken, I will appear before the world as a blind, dumb, quite possibly schizophrenic, stalker. Nice.

These humiliations you rain down on me, however, have their sharp edges softened by the very nature of the humiliations themselves. In order to make me look even more like a goose, you needed to publish these letters to your blog - and then ignore me. Hmm. So far so grim. However, the very fact that this treachery has taken place means that you are at least still with us - and well enough in control of your senses to abjectly humiliate an irritating interloper. This makes me very happy, because I had been starting to worry about you (and I was not alone in this, I'll have you know).

Brilliant news, Ms Pants, and now I'll get out of your hair.

Kind regards etc


(same time tomorrow, then?)

GoAwayPlease said...

re Gippsland: I am a Western District/Brighton sorta person and have hardly ever gone East.
Never seen Wilson Prom or Lakes Entrance but I think they are Heritage Listed Wilderness areas.

Google is Your Friend I reckon.

check the weather first - today has been a bastard 38 degree high wind full of dust day with a tunnel collision with multiple fatalities bringing melbourne traffic to a halt.
Look for a home in a temperate zone, would be my advice.
TASMANIA is beautiful and inexpensive real estate.
east coast.

How can I find your normblog profile - his list has real names except for my brownie.