Monday, April 02, 2007

Well, Mock Me!

Words failed me for at least twenty-four hours after I read the gut-wrenching claims by Manchester United boss ‘Sir’ Alex Ferguson that a ‘mocking culture’ which has blossomed in Britain, seemingly overnight, is responsible for the crippling abuse heaped upon beleaguered England football coach, Steve McClaren. That would be as opposed to his stunningly dire performance in his job, presumably. McClaren did start from the not inconsiderable disadvantage of being one of the last people to be offered the England job and the only one fool enough to take it, but how difficult can it be to take a team comprising some of the best players in the world and coax a goal out of them when they’re up against a team made up of the only men under fifty in a tiny country not exactly known for its football who were able to get time off from goat herding duties?

Having fallen to earth just days ago and discovering to his horror that Britons have the capacity for mean-spiritedness (pause for expression of complete dismay at House of Pants), Sir Ferg has taken it upon himself to find an explanation for this shocking new phenomenon. After at least five minutes of deep consideration, he came up with the answer that the spiteful judges on television talent shows are responsible for all this ugliness.

‘We have a mocking situation in this country now’, he intoned to anyone daft enough to be listening. ‘You see it on all these TV shows where the panellists criticise the contestants’. The particular target of this spontaneous venom seemed to be the sort of shows where mostly deluded talent vacuums receive a much needed wake up call or forgotten sports personalities demonstrate just how scary a post-career paunch can look with sequins stretched over it. As if caught up in the metaphoric maze of this addled creation, the gallant Sir Ferg continued deep into the realms of his quicksand logic.

‘There’s a mocking industry now,’ (??? Gosh, I hope old Scrooge McDuck over at the Treasury is factoring this into GDP and promoting it as one of Britain’s areas of economic growth), ‘and it’s even generated by television programmes. Even when they skate, the panel criticises them.’ For the benefit of foreign readers, that last bit refers to an avalanche of tasteless ex-celeb self-loathing that went by the name of Dancing on Ice in which a dozen or so has beens with two left feet apiece were taught to ice skate then paraded in front of a gripped nation as evidence that they were complete crap at more than one thing.

Perhaps Sir Ferg has been surrounded by sycophantic minions and monosyllabic footballers for so long that he has failed to notice that being beastly to each other is as British as warm beer and cold roast beef. Open hostility in every sphere of human interaction is central to the national psyche. What would we do without our pastime of complaining about everyone and everything with devilish wit? What justification would we have if bus drivers smiled at us instead of slamming the doors in our faces just as we get to the bus stop? Shows with vicious judges and contestants with psychotic egos where brains should be have been around since television began. Did he never see Opportunity Knocks? The ‘knock’ part was ‘ironic’ – geddit?

Ever wondered why the villains in movies are all British? Americans don’t like to play baddies because they just don’t want people to think unkindly of them. Jeremy Irons, on the other hand, has sold both of his own grandmothers and several of Sinead Cusack’s as well for minor roles in Bruce Willis films. Clearly he doesn’t give a ferret’s fart what anyone thinks of him. Ben Kingsley, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone – my God, the Stoner once swapped three of his cute Cockney kiddies for an audition for Darth Vader’s understudy. He didn’t get the part and the children all sadly perished in the Clone Wars. Has Sir Ferg missed out on Britain’s most important contribution to comedy, the funny man/straight man routine epitomised by the likes of Morecombe and Wise? Sorry, but isn’t that all about mockery and humiliation and don’t we piss the proverbial pants over it?

What we dearly love in Britain is the thought that every day bad things will happen to good people. It’s what gets us up in the morning. We do not praise success – that would just be gross and American (ugghhh). No, we either deeply resent it or reward it with vast amounts of money to demonstrate just how tawdry we find it, and prime ourselves with patience for the inevitable tumble from glory which will make it all worthwhile.

We much prefer humiliation and failure which, in addition to giving us a good laugh at some poor sod’s expense, establishes that he or she is ‘human’. Perfection is unrealistic and far too American (ugghhh), whereas frailty is the stuff of grim forbearance, a quality we hail. It is essential that when we chuck someone in the stocks and hurl mildewed cabbage at them that they respond with good humour. Sir Ferg might like to take notes. He may only be a couple of players away from the ducking stool himself and he might need to locate the ability to see the funny side in the not too distant future …

cartoon from


Janejill said...

Ah Tsp I hope words will never ever fail you -as if...What a funny,scintillating post. Tell me about the Irish pleeease x

That's so pants said...

Hi Jane Jill - my lovely (and only) friend. As I have never lived in Ireland and visited only once I don't feel qualified, especially as the week I spent in Ireland was so idyllic in every possible way that I just couldn't, not ever, find anything to quibble about. Sorry.

Reading the Signs said...

well clearly you must stay here then. It's not quite custard pie in the face in Blighty though, is it?. Now that is dark.

That's so pants said...

Hi Signs. Difficult to know whether it's nature or nurture with me. On balance, I'd say that I'd much rather live in a kindly society but I don't so my focus is on giving as good as I get. You may call me Cruella de Pants from now on.

Fringe Poet said...

Hello Pants

There are many more of these talent shows now than there used to be and I find that depressing. The recent Jane Austen series was a welcome relief. Let's have more drama - fewer drama queens.

That's so pants said...

Hiya Fringey.

The JA season left me a bit cold I have to say. Northanger Abbey was as dull as Darcy's dick sacks on a dank December day and all during Mansfield Park I kept praying for an attack of cybermen to liven things up a bit. I enjoyed Persuasion up to a point although the peculiar mixed messages perpetually emanating from luscious, pouting Rupert Penry-thingy were thoroughly distracting. At any moment I expected him to pull out a gun and start accusing everyone of being a terrorist person. It would have been helpful if he'd chosen a different facial expression from the one he has in Spooks.

Janejill said...

Surely Paisley's accent leaves you a wee bit cold?? You have lots of cyber friends, all twunkling around you like a little Galaxy I think; now there IS a picture (I meant to type Twinkling but felt the alternative was quite special too; as my mother might have said "you are too clever" only she would have been sarcastic; I am not.

That's so pants said...

I know, a fearsome old codger indeed but is he not redeemed? And the name Paisley - all I can think of is those little curly patterns on Hehru jackets. Awwww. Sorry.

Ms Melancholy said...

Oh, yes, yes and more yes. We may be bunch of miserable old cynics here in Blighty, but god it's fun sometimes. Pants I love this:

‘There’s a mocking industry now,’ (??? Gosh, I hope old Scrooge McDuck over at the Treasury is factoring this into GDP and promoting it as one of Britain’s areas of economic growth),

thank you x

That's so pants said...

Greetings Ms Melancholy

Well - when in Rome -

We come to bury Chico, not to praise him, what!