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Stephen Fry - Posing as a Misogynist?

National Treasure Stephen Fry has got himself into hot water, which will be Quite Interesting to watch. Not least to hear him tested with a real issue, which is always a pleasure. 
 In a gob-fest with something called 'Attitude' magazine, he says:
"If women liked sex as much as men, there would be straight cruising areas in the way there are gay cruising areas. Women would go and hang around in churchyards thinking: 'God, I've got to get my fucking rocks off', or they'd go to Hampstead Heath and meet strangers to shag behind a bush. It doesn't happen. Why? Because the only women you can have sex with like that wish to be paid for it."
Or 'Women don't really like sex, they're only in it for the money'.  A bit like premiership footballers. This is how it has been taken, and everyone's favourite uncle and nephew is now not quite so cuddly or graceful. Coming from the man who runs screaming from female nudity, and who once complained of the mechanics of sex that 'to reach the pleasure, first one has to wade through all this poison' it sounds like he's talking complete bollox about something he knows nothing about, and doesn't want to thank you very much, at best. It does also sound eerily Swiftian. But we won't go there. 
It's a shame he has hit the nail on the thumb so hard. Because there is a serious point to be made about the way consumerist-era relationships are cast and graded and packaged and marketed and used and recycled (or discarded) which might have strained his mighty bonce. But apparently he bottled it.
"I feel sorry for straight men. The only reason women will have sex with them is that sex is the price they are willing to pay for a relationship with a man, which is what they want," ..."Of course, a lot of women will deny this and say, 'Oh no, but I love sex, I love it!' But do they go around having it the way that gay men do?"
He might have addressed the origins of modern gay culture in its criminalised past for answers to that question. Just as he might have addressed the origins of all modern sexuality in its charter'd, manacled history. That would have been Very Interesting. I'm sure that the likes of Rosie Boycott and Susan Orbach are better placed to advise him on the right books to read than me, only I can't imagine he hasn't already read them.
It will be interesting to see the entire context, and whether there are any mis-quotes or other finagling. If so, what was the agenda in this case? What aspect of sexual politics and the Showbiz industry does this unveil? As the ultimate modern Celeb, Fry is definitely the man to  chronicle and dissect the workings of the game. It might even be possible that in Fry, the media demolition crew have chosen the wrong sucker. Wayne Rooney he isn't.


Jokes Aren't Funny

The interesting thing about recent BBC Deficit Sitcoms is that they show us how the ordinary is funny, not just jokes. Jokes aren't funny, people are. And not cartoon stereotypes, but characters as real as comedy will allow, and often more so, which is why they have been able to attract such high-grade acting talent. Roger and Val, Getting On, Grandma's House, all comedies in the original, All's Well That Ends Well sense. Not farces where clowns fall through open doors ('Play it cool, Trigger.') And all condemned in green ink as Simply Not Funny on BBC messageboards, often by the same people who complain about soundtracks and incorrect costume uniforms. People who, apparently, only laugh when someone is paid to make them laugh using a recognisable mechanism for laughter. A gag. A pre-packaged, mass-produced, easily digestible portion of junk-comedy. A formula.
X+Y = Bathos+laughter
In fact, most laughter in life is about life. The little things. Comedians didn't invent laughter, as they will be the first to admit. So why should comedy rely on jokes? Especially situation comedy as merciless and true as 'Getting On'.
Maybe it's the time. Maybe we're a bit less susceptible to escapism that our grandparents generation, at least where comedy is concerned. Today's comedy writers don't seem willing or able to roll out the sitcom equivalent of the deplorable X-Factor or Strictly Come Dancing. Good for them. By not being put in harness they prove that the shift away from the Mother-in-Law Gag-World is permanent, and that creativity is not merely a means of avoiding the world, but of confronting it. But most of all they produce work which is both interesting and funny, and which isn't afraid of playing unorthodox emotional chords in the sitcom sonata. Of introducing genuinely dark themes, then puncturing, or inverting them with comedy.
Roger and Val's bereavement would have been comedy poison ten years ago. And no American producer would still allow anyone with such a pitch into the building. And so they would have missed this incredibly delicate balancing act between tragedy and hilarity.

If only jokes are funny, we have lost our sense of humour, and part of our humanity with it. Like someone only able to eat liquified Astro-food through a tube.


Emperor the Stag

 Murder mystery: Since the death of Emperor was reported, there have been numerous reported sightings of the beast
90% of the outrage at the shooting of this dominant male stag can be discounted as pure humbug. People are not angry that an animal was killed, for pleasure or necessity. They are disconcerted that their ideal of beauty and solitary power has been usurped. If this had been a slug instead of a 'magnificent' Monarch of the Glen (below) nobody would turn a hair. But as a cultural icon of indomitable resourcefulness and dignified leadership, 'Emperor' was almost a divine presence. And so his killing was more an act of blasphemy than cruelty. 
There would in fact be more outrage if Landseer's idealisation was officially destroyed. It is our identities which feel outraged by this killing, not any sense of sympathy for a wild animal.


Beware the Bojo When Bearing Gifts.

Pretend London Mayor Boris Johnson speaks out against the cap to housing benefit. Stating that there will be no 'Kosovo-style cleansing.' This is for local consumption only. But it is a sure sign that the Cap is a cut too far. This is now a human rights issue, not an economic one. There is no justification for evicting people from their homes at the whim of the markets, or to make them pay for the bungling of billionaire banksters. If this doesn't cause outrage, Blair's work is done and we are a nation of castrated market poodles, and the gods will weep for us.
And now we hear from self-confessed pro-war activist Michael Portillo that Boris Johnson spends most of his time plotting against Cameron instead of doing his highly paid job. Is there no end to this man's talent?
BBC London


Cameron's New Gypsies

Newsnight tonight gave another chance for assorted morons to sneer at social housing. The occasion being the government's cap on housing benefit, and other assorted methods of destroying communities. Ex-Homelessness campaigner and founder of Big Issue John Bird being the biggest moron of all, with his claims that the only route out of poverty is home ownership. This is a staggering display of blithering idiocy since the reason for most of the homelessness over the next two years is the toxic debt accumulated during the property boom which died in 2007.
When will Newsnight guest some advocates of social housing? People who can make the case that it is an essential part of the social infrastructure, like railways or hospitals or the national grid, and not some act of gross charity. There are plenty of highly-qualified specialists and academics willing and very able to take a sledgehammer to the myth of Ownership Heaven, and many examples from the continent to draw on.
So why is Newsnight so nervous of allowing the British people a vision of a life without mortgages?
Properly funded and de-stigmatised, social housing can provide all the 'support' and 'education' Bird keeps drooling about, because it can provide communities - stable, caring communities which aren't subject to the whims of the market. Combined with a rent cap, this would solve most of broken Britain's problems, and slash the housing benefit bill. But the Coalition has chosen to do almost the exact opposite:
As David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, says: "Because it is based on near-market rents, the new funding model will trap thousands of tenants in welfare dependency because they will simply not be able to earn enough money to pay for their homes without the support of housing benefit – which means the benefit bill for new low-cost housing will go through the roof."
This benefit cap isn't simply a re-adjustment of levels and entitlements but a wholesale delivery of housing policy into the hands of the private sector. A privatisation of council housing stock by stealth. From now on, the ghost of Rachmann sets the rents in social housing, and therefore where the working classes can live. And not just for new tenants but for all, including those who chose their homes prudently and within their means at the time. From now on, nobody on a modest income will feel secure that they will be able to stay in the same place for more than 5 years before rising market rents drive them out, which is a scorched earth policy of community destruction. The Condems are creating a new tribe of nomads.
As long as the divisive, alienating dogma of ownership and the property ladder is unchallenged, we will stagger from one social crisis to another, and one global financial crash to the next. The main casualties will be the millions who couldn't afford to be the cause of the fabled budget deficit, not having mortgages. Hopefully, the other casualties will be this government, when the realities of this lunacy become clear and the people get angry.
Meanwhile, of course, the cleansing of Kensington will release more property onto the rental market, reducing prices for those who can easily afford to pay the full price in those prime postal codes. So the rich will benefit from the displaced, who will be forced into competition for housing in the outskirts, which will on balance become more expensive. Turning up the gas on the housing market in this way will prove useful if, as many predict, we are heading for Japanese style stagnation, and the collapse in house prices that will result. Perhaps that's what Vince Cable expects.

Socialism? What a Joke! The Rich Are Winning the US Class War: Facts Show Rich Getting Richer, Everyone Else Poorer

It seems incredible that the American people are still being sold the lie that socialism = Stalinism. But it seems to be true. How much this has limited the political vision over the generations is impossible to say in detail, but it would certainly have been a great help in creating the vast shanty town of poverty and degradation which is Lower America today.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost


Spud Stays

The boy signed a new contract out of the blue. So it goes.
Shame about all that money the Sun spent on photographers and Spud-a-likes and flamenco dancers and guitarists. One less packet of platinum paperclips for Rupert Murdoch.
But this isn't really about Rooney, or Sky Soccerball, this is about excellence and how it is destroyed by the way we exploit it. I always thought that The Divine Market nurtured the elite. Maximising the investment in its super-human powers. Now it is clear that there is far more money to be made from ruining those who are uniquely gifted than by sharing their gifts with as many people as will pay the price. You learn something every day..
I'm sure on his estate in Liverpool Rooney is still the local boy made very good. Able to double his salary when Boy George Osborne is slashing everyone else's. This is a bit like Damien Hirst selling up just before the market crashed. And Manchester United is looking distinctly toxic. So the truth is that he was just the first and most inflammatory player to make his play. And United wouldn't call his bluff. So they had to pay up, because if he'd left there would have been a stampede.
Rooney is no more to blame for the destruction of sport than the fans who willingly pay the inflated prices to see it. The inflated prices which pay the inflated wages.

The Prevention of Orwell

Tonight to the Orwell Prize launch, and a debate on the Condem sabotage of the welfare state. A suit night.
The bare brick walls of the very nice restaurant were awash with Don McCullins and Robert Capas proclaiming War in-a-Paddington!
Access to the bar left much to be desired, with definite health and safety implications for those dying of thirst at the rear of the queue. But the wine and nuts and crisps were tip-top. There were no pashminas or bush-hats, as far as I could see.
"Policy-based evidence-making" (C.G.)
The panel was also impressive. Chris Giles of the Financial Times confirmed that nobody knows what a 'structural deficit' is, and that many of the cuts to benefits could be replaced more fairly and cheaply by a simple increase in income tax and that through its 'policy-based evidence-making' the Condem government is basically no more rational than the Ancient Egyptians, who believed that writing something down made it so. We are seeing that in spades right wing press tries to talk up the economy in the face of predicted plummetting growth projections for the next quarter. If we tell the wolf to go away, he will. If we say our prayers, the Devil won't get us when we sleep. If we stick pins in a wax doll of Recession, it will die.
Lisa Harker, formidable welfare rights hi-flyer, and David Walker, experienced social analyst, both gave their various decimations of the government's lies and deceit and idiocy. And the audience was packed and enthusiastic, but few, it turned out, could demonstrate any sense of affiliation with Orwell's politics, or imagine what he would have thought of the chicanery of the bankers, and the western world's unquestioning, collective, superstitious faith in their voodoo. 
Naturally, this was not the Orwell Appreciation Society, nor the Orwell Liberation Front,  but the Orwell Prize, a benchmark of honesty and clarity, and not necessarily tied to any of Orwell's extreme socialist politics. But nevertheless, If Orwell is to be invoked, his style and character cannot be divorced from his politics, and the silly-clever conservatives who try to paint Orwell as the mortal enemy of socialism because of his attitude to Stalin, sandals, and vegetarians would be advised not to dig themselves too deeply into that hole.
Tonight's examination of the effects of the latest front in the Deficit War was always meant to be a process of counting the damage not planning a response to it, but it might have been an edition of Question Time from Newcastle Under Lyme, for all the attention it paid to the kind of alternative economics which the author of The Lion and the Unicorn would be demanding. We accept that from the BBC, but not from an organisation named after one of Britain's foremost, vocal, unapologetic socialists. Britain's plodding obedience to US Consumerism was taken as read, as was our inevitable obedience to the call for a consumerist war to keep the homes fires burning. The minute attention to detail was predictably immaculate, but the sense was that deckchairs were being re-arranged all over the Titanic. And none of the highly qualified, experienced, respected panel questioned the theory of infinite economic growth - as responsible economists are now starting to. All seemed wedded 'til death to the market system which Orwell, 60 years ago, realised was obsolete and festering. The general impression was of watching a man desperately tinkering with a broken umbrella in a thunderstorm, oblivious to the warm log cabin just behind him. In its net effect the meeting was a demonstration in favor of capitalism. This at a time when the market is less ideologically defensible than ever, and when language has never been more abused in its defence. 
From where I was sitting, the audience seemed to sense this hole in the night, and took out their frustration on poor Patrick Nolan of Reform, who seriously proposed that New Zealand, a barely occupied island paradise, with its economy based on sheep, could provide a viable economic and social model for modern digital multicultural Britain, the oldest industrial society in the world, and then lectured us from that elite political position. Londoners don't cotton to being told how to live by their country cousins. If he hadn't then proceeded to defend the bankers, and banking, he might have got out alive. Luckily for him, Sherriff Jean Seaton stepped in and stopped us riding him out of town on a rail.
In one of the most depressing experiences of a depressing year, I spoke with some bright-eyed young butties from Newport, whose grandparents would have slaved to make the welfare state possible, and who made the down-payments on the socialist future with their labour. This crew were completely unaware of their class-heritage and the nature of exploitation. The political cable connecting them with their history and destiny has been cut at some point in the last 20 years. So all they receive now is just the static background radiation emanating from the mass media. Until eventually I was seriously urged to leave Orwell's politics behind and 'think out of the box'. Their local hero Nye Bevan would be turning in his grave, as would his would-be speech-writer, Orwell.
Until 2008, The Orwell Prize probably was justified in honouring prose from all ends of the political spectrum, on grounds of high journalistic principle. But since then, anyone trying to apologise for the competitive market system is at best lying to themselves, and does not possess 'The Crystal Spirit'. I really don't see how anyone can now defend the market with Orwellian conviction and truthfulness. And to 'turn political writing into an art' requires truth, including genuine belief in one's opinions. The opinion that market forces are still the best way to organise the world is not one many people now agree with, or can write about without squirming. 


El Spud. Rooney Buys Sombrero and Takes Flamenco Lessons?

In the smallest surprise this season, Wayne Rooney wants to leave Manchester United.
Ferguson rode Rooney like a Blackpool donkey all last season. He has always been more determined to make him earn his fee rather than nurture his talents. Ferguson's bungling of the Tevez affair was symptomatic of his loss of grip. Rooney would be far happier under Arsene Wenger for a few seasons.
Rooney is definitely one of the best talents of the last ten years. But it hasn't been on display consistently in its complete version for two seasons. But even when not scoring his vision and passing was worth the admission. But now even that's faltering, and his chronic Keeper-itis in front of goal has got worse, if anything.
If Rooney is a busted flush, it just goes to prove that talent like that cannot be industrialised. And you cannot expect lads who have just finished growing to cope with the physical demands of a premiership season and retain their unique combination of skills and instincts and reflexes. Their Joy in the game. And so god help young Wilshire. 'Though at least he doesn't have Ferguson as the monkey on his back.
Anyone who appreciates football will admit that even in the slough of the World Cup despond, Rooney was still able to spark. But years of putting this thoroughbred between the shafts of the milk cart have done their job. The attention of the media did the rest. If the media had kept their noses out of other people's business, England would have had a team worth supporting in South Africa. They would at least have had the captain who saw them waltz through the group with Wayne Rooney on top form. And tomorrow's Sun will see some dumbass shot of a Spud lookalike posing with a flamenco dancer. Stability doesn't sell papers. Crises sell papers. I hope they're happy.
If he does go, Barcelona would be the making of him. But even a spell at Blackpool would put the roses back in his cheeks, which is all he needs. A reminder of the joy of football.

Condem Wrecking Ball. 50% Cut In Social Housing

To slash the housing budget by half is pure sabotage, and the machine was a wreck to begin with. This will push many people over the edge, and there are too many of them, with too much to lose, for it not to make a political difference.
Whether this is a cut too far on the scale of the polltax only time will tell, but every cut so far has done one thing - further removed the incentive for people to work harder, and pushed the recovery back further. The increasing number of people on the borderlines of benefit will ensure that they end up on the entitlement side. The response will be to tighten the noose even more by reducing the thresholds, and see who calls Uncle first. But it is a huge gamble by the government, which they don't even realise they are taking. They are under the happy delusion that they are being prudent, when in fact they are pissing the future up the wall.
The cuts attack two classes of people, those with too much to lose from them, and those who couldn't fall much further. Normally, these two groups chug along, grumbling a bit, but playing by the rules. But at times like this, and the PollTax, they coalesce into one 'Fuck-You' class, composed of a wide cross section from the Grantham Women's Institute to anarchist squatters from Hackney. And then the government is always in serious trouble.
The Condem nightmare vision for social housing will probably be the tipping point. Housing estates are to be turned into something more like Benefit Transit Camps than communities. Everyone will be assessed on arrival, and directed to the left, or the right. One queue is evicted and sent to the building society to sign their life away for a Barratt slumhouse, the other to the Municipal Blackleg Labour Pool, to 'volunteer' to destroy the wage of another worker, who will then join them on the chain-gang. And the massive sink estates created by this process will be constantly repopulated, making any meaningful solidarity impossible. Anything to break Britain even more than Cameron claims it is already. By tieing housing benefits and council rents to the market rent is creating an apartheid of the market, with Affordable Townships for the service classes. The cleaners at Canary Wharf will now have to travel in from Luton and Southend for their minimum wage. They might as well just camp on the plaza outside and go home at weekends. Immigrants in their own country.
There is a lot of nonsense being spoken about the rights of poor (nasty) people to live in nice (expensive) areas. What this idiocy fails to recognise is that places are not made 'nice' by the salaries of the people who live there but by their ability to create a communiity. And in general, those who earn most are the least able to relate to their fellow human beings, and more likely to be the death of any community. This has certainly been the reality of the Right to Buy sabotage.
The idea that the unemployed of Merthyr Tydfil can just up sticks and move to Cardiff is especially absurd. But it gets even more sensible, since the Over-Subsidised claimants of Cardiff are to be evicted by the new market-driven rents and benefits to Merthyr. The result will be a grotesque merry-go-round of the unemployed and homeless, all chasing their own tails.
It seems that by making people rush about pointlessly and endlessly, IDS hopes to create the economic recovery. Like a sort of Rain-Dance.


San Jose - A Love Story

It just goes to show that it's not confinement but isolation that drives people crazy. 33 people can survive fairly happily in a cell or log cabin or cave, but cut them off from human contact, and they soon deteriorate.
In spite of terrible conditions and deprivation, the trapped miners of the San Jose all survived, and no frictions or conflicts have been reported in the months of close enforced proximity. It seems that we are not rats in cages after all, as some would have us believe. We do understand that our survival depends on the survival of others, not their deaths. And too many people aren't the problem, but not enough.
With a little bit of hope and organisation, all 33 miners were able to form a relationship which achieved its purpose. In fact, they survived through love in its purest, most basic form, which is why this story is so big. People have seen the intensity of their experience over the weeks, and are actually envious of it. The energy of this story, like all good drama, is the degree to which it reveals what is missing from many people's lives, and which they instinctively yearn for, and which they can experience vicariously by watching it unfold on TV.
The format of the drama did help, being approximately about the same length as the normal reality TV series. And from the opening scene, the event was inevitably structured to an exquisitely dramatic climax. And the 'cast' was perfect. So there was no excuse for not getting rave reviews and standing ovations. Much of the effect was in the timing.
But in spite of the accident of its five-act epic format, and the high-octane media presentation, basic human decency was on display. The trouble is that this is now being rapidly spun as either 'national pride', or the triumph of the will. The professional miseries are already confidently declaring that It Could Never Happen here - in 'broken Britain'. We would never unite over such a rescue because school exams are too easy, or because the poor get life too easy, or because of political correctness, or because there are too many foreigners and Britain has lost it's Identity! Anything to distract attention from the real story, and focus minds on the manufactured divisions between people and away from the vast amount which unites them.
This week saw the 97th anniversary of Britain's biggest mining disaster at Senghenydd, which killed 440 men and boys. And in a week, it will be another anniversary of Aberfan, which saw all too few survivors, and which united the country instantly. Since then there have been dozens of other instances of Britain instinctively displaying the right responses to events. The inquest this week into the 7/7 bombings should be enough to silence the pap-pessimists like Matthew Wright, who make a living from sneering. But anyone old enough to read since 1972 will have seen Britain celebrating its core values in the face of immense threats - partly from the same media industry which claims to further them. The same media, indeed, which give very little space to the issue of safety at work, either here or in Chile. And which has ignored the fact that it was the negligence of the mining company which trapped these men in a communal coffin. And still hasn't mentioned that the biggest beneficiary of this drama, the Claudius who escapes with the Danish crown jewels, bilionaire President Pinera, was the person who intensified the privatisation of the mining industry and stifled the miners unions, degrading safety standards and helping to cause the mess in the first place.
If god really did save the San Jose miners, He will now ensure that the aren't put in the same danger again, and that those responsible are held to account. If He doesn't, just what sort of god is He anyway? There has been endless nonsense about miracles, and how belief in them helped the miners to survive. In fact, what got them through was not faith, or patriotism, but the tribal shift system which they and their predecessors had created to deal with a dehumanising and brutal occupation. It was working class culture which gave them the society which saw them through their imprisonment.
One one front or another, the working classes have died by the millions to create the advanced technological age we live in. A level of technology which is easily capable of eliminating poverty and squalor and ignorance. And all built and tested by those who have benefited least.
By any morality, therefore, socialism in some form is now a right which has been earned by the sacrifices of scores of generations of ordinary people. Equality is everyone's collective property, not something to be 'granted'. It is already paid for, and the account is well in credit and getting more so every day, and repayment is now well overdue. It isn't a matter for negotiation.

It's so UNFAIR!!

The Condem coalition is trying to cover up its idiotic sabotage of the recovery by floating fluffy concepts nobody knows the meaning of, in this case, 'fairness. We are invited to decide how much fairness we can afford, thanks to Gordon Brown's socialism (the same socialism adopted by George Bush). And urged to inform on any Scrounger-Bugs we know of. And that is meant to somehow make us feel involved and empowered. The 'Big Society' as the Nark's Paradise.
And so various classic scholars and agony aunts and enthusiasts for ancient slavery are wheeled out to decide what fairness is, and discuss eternal verities and the judeo-christian tradition until its time for the next retail opportunity when we'll be back with the question: 'If you caught your boyfriend wearing your pants, would you dump him?'
Fairness is not an abstract absolute, it is in fact the direct result of the invention of unfairness. Something we didn't know we needed until it was abused. The 1st -generation agricultural settled civilisations would have probably seen the first crystallisation of the idea of fairness in response to the first systematic exploitation.. Ever since then in the resulting hierarchies, one group or other has felt oppressed and exploited by the groups above, and threatened by the groups below because of their exploitation of them.
Before competitive, hierarchical society, 'fairness' would have been the status quo from necessity. Now it is a genuine threat to the structure of the society we live in, which is why it is resolutely opposed by those with most to lose. They see the real danger of justice in an unjust world..
But since almost everyone has almost everything to lose, and often to those nearest in the hierarchy, unfairness is systemic and objectively divisive, instilling mistrust and suspicion as default emotions, with disastrous consequences for the quality of life and the health of society.
Primitive hunter-gatherer groups, like many isolated tribal groups today, would have had no need for unfairness, and not much need for territorial conflict. With such a family structure to the tribe, and such a lot of land and resources to share among nomadic tribes, by far the best strategy would have been to move on - except in time of crisis, such as severe drought.
The point is that while there was enough to go around, there was no conflict, and no 'unfairness'. This is not the great fall from grace it is sometines depicted as. The proverbial Martian observing the course of human history would merely note that we had chosen one means of building cities and kick-starting technological development. Without enough unfairness, we might not have invented the steam engine. But since we did, it would be obvious to the Martian that we needed less and less competition to progress further, and that unfairness had been made obsolete. That Empathy has been the logical, humane strategy for almost a 100 hundred years. That we have had the technology which made competition obsolete for almost that long.
The same Martian would also be placing bets that our ever-expanding consumerism will devastate our eco-system. So while empathy might not be allowed to take its course now, due to the usual rearguard actions, there is no alternative. Our attitudes to property will have to change, and our dependence on conflict will wither away. The usual suspects will scream that this is unfair. That they have a right to more than everyone else, but not for long. Eventually, even they will realise that there really is more to life than winning.


The Amateur Society Society

Cameron wants us to run the country for nothing. All bullshit aside, that is what 'The Big Society' boils down to., eventually. There is such a lot of bullshit.
Volunteer police, teachers, estate managers, firemen? housing benefit officers? We are all in it together, and we must put our noses to the grindstone to win the Deficit War and protect the bankers from the real world and the consequences of their diseased minds. 'What did you do in the Deficit War, daddy?' is the question hanging over us all, apparently.
The tragedy is that Diddy Dave thinks this is a new idea. In fact it is just a tired re-run of the 1968 campaign 'I'm Backing Britain', which bullied those with no self-respect into working a day a week for no pay. Bruce Forsyth was the figurehead, and Robert Maxwell grabbed the opportunity to launch his own stunt to 'Buy British!', selling campaign T-Shirts made in Portugal.
Cameron has even had the gall to talk about co-operatives, as if tories invented them. It would be great if his 'Big Society' really meant more co-operativeness. If it did signify a and end to the Rat-race. But the likelihood is that once the job is done, and the new local co-operative has repaired the damage, that it will be bought up lock-stock and barrel by the corporation it threatens. And then we're back to square one. And if it refuses to sell it will be strangled to death, as alternative economic models always are.So in reality, 'The Big Society' simply means a return to the voluntary Good Works of a genteel yester-year. An Amateur Society Society, whose members work very hard to produce a worthy 'HMS Pinafore' every two years, but never talk to their neighbours.


Norman Wisdom. 'Coo! Wasn't He OLD?'

Asked in an interview what he would like on his tombstone, Wisdom immediately said:
'Coo, Wasn't He Old?' 
Which is really what everyone wants, and a very wise thing to say, and possibly the funniest tombstone ever, beating Spike Milligan's lame effort by several laughter-cramps.
There will be much sniping in the marsh about Wisdom. The mawkishness, the gawkishness, the apparent willingness to cash in on the foibles of mad dictators like Enver Hoxha and Margaret Thatcher. The residency on the Isle of Man. The self-pity. The endless golf. But all missing the point by miles.
In his three key films, 'On the Beat', 'The Early Bird', and 'The Bulldog Breed',  he not only provides some of the tightest visual comedy on film, and some of the cutest innuendo ('wire wool?') but also a fair dissection of class-ridden British society in post-war transition. It wasn't 'Beyond the Fringe', but it did much the same job, to a much wider audience. And while he maintained the conventional pose of the political illiterate, his 50's trilogy belied it. Jerry Desmonde, Pitkin's perpetual arch enemy, is also an early premonition of Thatcherite power-worship, especially in 'The Early Bird'. The ruthless 'Associated Dairies' conglomerate, determined to crush the silly little family business and send Nellie to the glue-works, is almost an object lesson in Chicago School economics - until Pitkin turns up in his giant fireman's helmet and irrepressible spirit and reduces the vast monolithic HQ to ruins. How we cheered at that act of blatant terrorism.
Wisdom's life-story will also get a repeat hearing. The classic journey from total deprivation to fame and fortune shared with many popular entertainers. He is a classic example of the fact that most of C20th pop culture is a flight from squalor. A survival mechanism with a series of messages more sincere than ten years of training in a conservatory, and therefore more artistic. Or at least, more immediate to its audience. The wisdom everyone wants.


The Vordeman Benefit

"Ian Duncan Smith will announce that jobseeker's allowance, income support, housing benefit and dozens of other payments will be replaced by one type of universal handout in an attempt to simplify the system and curb fraud."
Says the Daily Mirror. In other words, the ConDem coalition is consolidating all its small benefits into one single, manageable benefit. As croakingly encouraged by celebrity brainbox bimbo Carole Vordeman on behalf of debt management vulture First Plus. So now we have the final dumbing down of Britain, a government reduced to daytime-loser TV political remedies.
The bright idea is to withdraw child benefit from any anyone earning over £44K. So a single parent on £45K loses out, as does the ideal single income nuclear family on the same average wage. But the career-couple with one kid at private school, and a canny accountant to keep their visible incomes below £44K, get to keep the lot. AND the revenue is cheated of the income tax from the massaged incomes. So the saving is far less than the paltry £1B estimated, and all at the expense of those least able to afford it.
On the same conference platform that Boy George showed who he intends to punish for the crimes of the bankers, bigmouth Boris Johnson also sells an enormous political pass. His proposal to shackle the unions even further, and drag society back towards his ideal Romanised state, has turned the Deficit cuts into a human rights issue, all the opposition has to do is intercept Boris's wild, opportunist pass to the extreme right wing, and gallop unopposed over the line.
If the unions and the labour party combined can't accept this gift, they don't deserve to represent the people.