Sunday, 27 December 2015

Come As You Are

One of the reasons I started this nonsense, by which I mean Memoirs Of A Fire Hazard rather than this particular entry in it, was to try to raise awareness of disability and what it's really like. You can go to as many Disability Awareness events as you like, complete any online diversity modules you like, but it's all just bullshit lip service. Box-ticking of the most putrid kind. Memoirs Of A Fire Hazard might not be the stuff of Helen Fielding or Sue Townsend, but it is at least a first hand account of the shit that is flung at you through disability. It keeps it real.

Which is why I want to tell you about a film I watched recently which was a noble attempt to do something similar. Come As You Are requires a bit of effort. It's not the easy watch that Avengers Age Of Ultron is. It's played out entirely in Flemish with English subtitles, which I realise is enough to put many people off. For reasons too absurd to go into I saw a subtitled version of the third Hunger Games movie at the cinema and it was all very off-putting. But somehow it's different when the language you are hearing the characters speak is not English. Either way this one is well worth that extra bit of endeavour.

Come As You Are tells the story of three young disabled men who plan a trip to a Spanish brothel in a bid to lose their virginity. Now there's an obvious problem with this I know. Such a premise suggests that disabled men who do not visit brothels must have their virginity intact. Which of course is a nonsense. Some disabilities make the loss of one's virginity more difficult than others. And in choosing men of varied disabilities for protagonists the writers seem to be tarring them all with the same shitty, soggy old brush. One is paralysed from the neck down, another is almost completely blind, while the third uses a wheelchair because he has an inoperable, soon to be fatal tumour. I can just about get my head around why the writers thought that the two wheelchair users would need to embark on their quest. The paraplegic Phillip is unable to dress or feed himself. His parents put him to bed at night and get him out of bed in the morning, and his mother washes him. Tumour-suffering Lars has more mobility but is equally fussed over by his parents. If I can testify (and I can) that something as relatively benign as Spina Bifida can interfere with your ability to attract the opposite sex, then it's a fairly safe assumption that guys in Phillip and Lars' predicaments will have a tough time with that also. Immobility is not sexy. Women see it as weakness, which is as uncomfortable as it is true. But the third protagonist, Jozef, is blind remember. What is it about blindness that renders one sexually ostracised? Josef was noticeably less attractive from where I sat than either Phillip or Lars so perhaps that was his problem. Or perhaps the idea being proposed is that the vanity of women prevents them from falling for someone who isn't with them at least in part for the way they look.

Away from their sexlessness, the saddest part of the lives of Phillip and Lars in particular is how they are not trusted to do anything by their parents, despite being young adults. They live a depressing, strangled existence and know very well that they will not be given permission to go on the trip if they reveal the reason for it. So they lie, and when the first nurse that they plan to take with them backs out at the last minute they are refused permission to go regardless. So they end up having to sneak out against their parents wishes. Which I loved. I've known people with various disabilities who have declined to do things for themselves based on what their parents would think and it's just tragic. You just want to shake them by the shoulders and scream at them. None of which is necessary with Phillip, Lars or Jozef.

The nurse they had booked finds them a replacement and it's all back on again. Claude brings a new dimension to proceedings as she firstly struggles to get on with the men but then slowly wins them over. Her clashes with Phiilip are particularly entertaining. He's not very likeable but then that's ok. Not all disabled men are. I've spent tireless hours being rude to people so I'm something of an expert. Refreshingly, the film doesn't try to pretend that everyone should love or feel sorry for Phillip just because he has a disability. An arsehole is an arsehole whatever problems they might have. This is very well illustrated by a scene in which Phillip almost gets his lights punched out by a hotel guest. Only the imposing and slightly scary figure of Claude gets him out of the sticky spot that his smart mouth gets him into.

Disappointingly only Jozef manages to make an actual emotional connection to anyone by the end. The girls at the brothel are clearly there for one thing and are deemed so irrelevant that their dialogue isn't even subtitled. This approach misses the target for me. Yes if you had reached the ages of these men without losing your virginity then the sex part would be important, but it's wrong to suggest that men of this age are only interested in physicalities. That's just part of it. Of feeling like you're accepted and not being dehumanised by everyone. My own masculinity takes a hit every time a woman opens a door for me. In this respect these issues are handled better by something like Inside I'm Dancing, a similar story with a similar premise but which has its protagonists looking for something deeper. Something real.

Come As You Are is funny, thought provoking but undeniably tragic. And well worth an hour and three quarters of your time if you find yourself combing through the iplayer for an alternative to cooking shows over the festive period.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Star Wars - Anticipation And Anxiety

I’ve been reading some headlines about the critics’ reception of the new Star Wars film. The Force Awakens premiered somewhere posh this week, and has its UK premiere somewhere else posh today. The great unwashed get their first opportunity to see it when it opens in cinemas on Thursday. Having read those headlines, I’m already regretting my decision not to go on the first night in a bid to avoid the horror that is Other People, Most Notably Children. As a consequence of that decision I am waiting until Monday, and already finding it difficult. I literally can’t wait. If I wasn’t on a cocktail of drugs to prevent it I might do a small wee at this point. Almost without exception, the UK’s press reviewers are lining up to declare it a resounding success. They are using words like ‘triumph’ to describe JJ Abrams’ Disneyed-up Episode VII, with some calling it the best of all of the Star Wars films.

I haven’t read the detail in these reviews because I don’t want any spoilers. You certainly won’t find any here. Not until I have seen it at any rate. By then you will probably all have seen it anyway, all three of you. I’m sure some of you make my level of fandom look like a mild passing interest. Regardless, and despite my excitement about seeing it, The Force Awakens cannot possibly be the best of all the Star Wars films. That would be going some. I’m a massive Star Wars fan even if my decision to wait until the start of next week to see the new film might suggest otherwise. Not even George Lucas’ laughable inability to write romantic dialogue can blunt my enthusiasm for what is essentially the greatest story ever told. Not even Darth Vader’s self-parodying cry of ‘no……….!!!!!’ upon hearing the truth economising tale (spoiler alert for those who have been in a coma since 2005) of how he killed his own wife could persuade me to give up on watching Star Wars films. Even if I am riddled with scepticism about where it could possibly go from the end of Return Of The Jedi. I will watch as many Star Wars films as they make in my lifetime and I’ll get preposterously excited before each and every one of them. Shit, I’ve even seen a few of those awful Clone Wars cartoons on Nickleodeon or whatever it is. But is The Force Awakens the greatest of all Star Wars films? I’d love to be proved wrong but, Nah. Doubt it.

One reason for my disturbing lack of faith (Star Wars fans will see what I did there) is that I don’t think that in 2015 it is possible to recreate the jaw-dropping majesty of Star Wars Episode IV’s opening shot in a cinema, or many of its other spectacular visual innovations. Or the feeling of what it would have been like to have been there to have seen it in 1977. There’s too much going on, too much is possible now, technologically and cinematically. An infeasibly large space ship cruising above your eyeline into shot, slowly moving away from you for what seems like an eternity was the height of cinematic ambition 38 years ago. Nobody had ever seen anything like it. These days it wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. When a film tries to show me something visually spectacular now I’m likely to choose that moment to go and empty my bladder, safe in the knowledge that I won’t miss anything resembling a plot while I’m away. Nobody has combined visuals like that with that level of intrigue in film ever since, and my natural cynicism tells me that they never will, no matter how many Star Wars films they make. No matter how my bladder copes with the anticipation of each new release.

I suppose my apprehension at the concept of more Star Wars films is because I already consider the story to be complete, and I’m not sure what we are doing tampering with it. I don’t just mean the original trilogy when I refer to ‘the story’. The flaw-infested prequels were a necessary evil. We had to see Anakin’s regression from Jedi hero to hate-fuelled Sith in order to try to understand Vader better. It’s just that we could have benefited from a better script and some superior acting. A bit more ‘you were the chosen one’ and a bit less ‘what have I done….?’ If you like. And I just don’t know what else we need to know about the Star Wars universe post-Vader. He’s redeemed and dead, we’ve come full circle. Isn’t everything from here on in just a re-telling of the same message, parping on about the same themes but to a lesser effect? We won’t know until we see the film, but I’m worried that it is. Abrams’ most notable work so far is his long running disaster epic Lost, which began brilliantly. It was interesting and inventive with intriguing characters with cleverly woven back stories. Yet by the end of series 327 it all fell in a crumpled mess to the point where there is now nobody alive who fully understands the ending and what really happened on that island, or whether there even was an island to begin with. Had it not been for Evangeline Lily half the audience would probably have stopped watching after series 2.

To the naysayers Star Wars is just a rather childish fantasy about people who live on fictional planets blowing things up, but to some of us it’s an epic story with a masterful understanding of human nature. Of how we start off fine before life slowly throws enough shit our way to break us down. OK, so we don’t all go around building a space station with enough power to destroy whole planets, or chopping our own children’s hands off, but there’s a bit of Darth Vader in every one of us. That’s why he is the greatest movie villain of all time, because so many of us identify with his struggle, even if we don’t necessarily endorse his fashion sense. The trailers for The Force Awakens reveal that he is at least referred to in the new story, but without his actual presence, without David Prowse awkwardly staggering around in a heavy suit practising high level dark arts, without James Earl Jones’ childhood defining voice talents, it seems implausible that you could actually have the best of all the Star Wars films.

I’m just hoping against all hope that the Star Wars saga, that much beloved relic of my childhood years, doesn’t outstay its welcome. At least two more films amongst other projects are on the way over the next few years. But when you add Abrams’ previous to the Disneyfication of the whole thing you might, as a Star Wars fan, find cause for concern. And then what will you do?

If you’re anything like me, you’ll go and watch the next instalment with the same level of excitement all the same…..

Regrettably, the words to this piece will not scroll away from you at an interesting angle……….

Friday, 11 December 2015

World Club Challenge - Thanks, But No Thanks

I'm a season ticket holder at Saints. As it's winter, I'm starting to have withdrawal symptoms owing to the lack of rugby league at this time of the year. Football and the NFL get you so far, but there is nothing really like the rugby league season. Langtree Park may be the coldest place in western Europe and the quality of rugby on show is not always the highest, but there's no room for this kind of reasoning once you are hooked. I have to wait eight more weeks for anything resembling a competitive rugby league match, and I have just received the following email;



Saints will face Sydney Roosters at Langtree Park on Friday February 19th (KO 8:00pm) as part of the prestigious World Club Series.

It is a rematch of the first ever World Club Challenge game which saw the then Eastern Suburbs face St Helens in 1976.

The 2016 Roosters will come to the town having won the Minor Premiership for the last three seasons - and are packed with a host of NRL stars such as Shaun Kenny-Dowell, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Mitchell Pearce.

Saints will no doubt be blooding new signings Lama Tasi, Dominique Peyroux, Theo Fages and Jack Owens too.

It will be a real Super League v NRL test!

Demand for this fixture is expected to be high and 2016 Members can now exclusively reserve their ‘spec'.

Tickets are priced at:

Hattons Solicitors West Terrace, East Terrace and Family Stands:

Adult - £22.50
OAP and Young Adult - £15.50
Junior - £10

Solarking South and Totally Wicked North Stands:

Adult - £30
OAP and Young Adult - £22.50
Junior - £12

Adult - £28
OAP and Young Adult - £20.50
Junior - £12

Adult - £25
OAP and Young Adult - £18.50
Junior - £10

Tickets can be bought by 2016 Members only by calling into the Ticket Office at Langtree Park or by calling 01744 455 052.

A package for all three games (Leeds v North Queensland, Wigan v Brisbane) costs £60 and can be purchased by visiting or calling the Rugby League Ticket Hotline on 0844 856 1113.

Here's the thing. I'm not going. I have 24 hours to change my mind, but as things stand I am absolutely not going to the Saints v Roosters game. As I will be in Hull tomorrow for a family do there is little chance of me finding time to book my ticket even if I wanted to. Which I don't, and I'll tell you why.

This game is meaningless and my club, in trying to sell me a ticket for it for £30, is trying to take the piss out of me. Did you note the phrase 'prestigious World Club Series' in the email above? How exactly is it prestigious? In rugby league the teams that win the European Super League and the Australasian NRL meet every year in the World Club Challenge. The title of World Club champions is bestowed upon the winners of this game. Saints played in it last year and were roundly whipped 39-0 by the then NRL champions South Sydney Rabbitohs. That was prestigious, even if it did only serve to prove that there is a gargantuan gap in quality between the NRL and Super League at the moment. This will continue to be the case so long as the NRL salary cap is around 10 times higher than that of Super League. Several of the current England national team play their club rugby in the NRL for this very reason. All of which dilutes the quality of Super League but arguably increases the unpredictability of it. The previously cash-rich clubs can no longer just out-bid their smaller foes for the best players and so there is a more even spread of what quality there is in Super League in terms of playing talent.

Despite this obvious and still expanding chasm between the two leagues, the decision makers have seen fit to expand the World Club challenge to include the top three sides from each. Well....sort of. As before, only the two champion sides actually have anything to play for in terms of the title of World Club champions. The rest of us are expected to swallow the idea that our games matter as part of a series between the two competitions. The idea that I would support Leeds or Wigan (this year's other two representatives in the World Club series from Super League) against their NRL opposition is absurd. I hope that the North Queensland Cowboys and Brisbane Broncos run up cricket scores against those two. I wouldn't want Wigan to win a tombola and I don't much care for Leeds either. They won all three trophies on offer in Super League last season and it was unpleasant viewing for the rest of us. Why would I want to sit and watch them pick up yet more silverware on a cold night in February? The only reason I will watch these games on television is in anticipation of them taking a fearful, humiliating battering.

The other problem I have with this whole shebang is the lack of a credible qualification process. Saints did not qualify for this event and have no business being part of it. We finished fourth in Super League last season, were knocked out of the play-offs in the semi-finals and went out of the Challenge Cup at the same stage. Originally the idea was for the league winners, Grand Final winners and Challenge Cup winners to be the three Super League representatives but with Leeds scooping all three they've had to have a re-thing. Hence the presence of beaten Grand Finalists Wigan. Logic suggests that as Wigan finished second in the league the final place would go to either the third placed team or the beaten finalists in the Challenge Cup, Hull KR. But Hull KR managed to lose the Challenge Cup final to Leeds by a mortifying, arse-clenchingly embarrassing scoreline of 50-0. They were too much of a risk, so out they went. Third placed Huddersfield Giants didn't get the gig either. It has been suggested that it was offered to them and they declined, but that would seem to make little sense given that there is no fee involved for them to participate, only television revenue. Huddersfield, despite their qualities, only manage to attract an average crowd of around 5-6000 fans in Super League, and I don't think I enter controversial territory if I suggest that this may have been a prominent factor in their absence from the line-up.

I understand the need to have international club competitions like this, and applaud the attempt to expand the game in this way. But in many ways the fact that the game needs this kind of exposure to enable it to rival the Omni-present evil that is rugby union makes the way they have gone about it even more of a crime. Are we really 'showcasing' our sport by offering up a non-tournament with little competitive integrity? I've been offered the argument that we must start here if we are to expand the concept in the future but I'm not having that theory across my welcome mat, let alone in my house. Start as you mean to go on. Be bold. If you are going to have a genuine six-team World Club competition then the least you can do is ensure that every team involved in it has the opportunity to win it, and that they have qualified for it on merit and not just because they are top three in terms of fans through the turnstiles. Fifty thousand people turn up to watch Newcastle every other week, but they won't be plonked into the Champions League at the expense of the rather more modestly supported Leicester City if the foxes can somehow continue their surprising early season form in the Premier League.

So after tomorrow someone else will have the privilege of snapping up my regular seat in the North Stand for the Roosters game, provided they are willing to part with their £30 for a glorified friendly. As long as my nerve holds......

Thursday, 10 December 2015

TV Times

Until recently I still needed a Sky engineer to come and reconnect the Sky+ box to the telephone line. This despite several loud and angry attempts to arrange it which are documented elsewhere on these pages. Consequently, over the last few months I have occasionally been left relying on the actual free-to-air television schedule for entertainment. It has been quite an eye-opener, particularly on a Saturday night.

Currently, Saturday night free-to-air television must be worse than it has ever been. I used to watch Strictly, I must confess. Millennia ago, the idea of fat, ageing celebrities donning the spandex and getting ritually slaughtered by a panel of mortifyingly pompous judges was an amusing one. Now though, well into it's 451st series, the joke is falling flat. The format is tired and predictable, the narrative formulaic. Television by numbers. The judges say the same things to the wholly interchangeable slebs. The soap actors, boy/girl band singers and athletes do well (especially if they happen to be good looking) while the television presenters, politicians and ageing thespians and crooners are bounced out after a few weeks of cheap ridicule. Even Dave Arch must be getting bored by now.

Not that there is any respite on what used to be known as 'the other side'. I've never actually sat through an entire episode of X-Factor but I've seen enough of it to know not to bother. Just as watching Jeremy Vine (or equivalent middle-aged, middle-class doyen of awkward) thrusting his pelvis around stopped being funny some time around the beginning of the credit crunch (remember that?), so the spectacle of the genuinely delusional trying their hand at pop music has surely lost it's edge by now? How do these people not know that they're shit in any case? As you know, I do a bit of singing. Sometimes I even get away with it. Yet never in a thousand series of Strictly would I ever contemplate trying to pass myself off as a professional. You know very well if you're rubbish. And if you are it's not funny. It's just embarrassing. So stop laughing at the same joke and maybe then we'll be offered something approaching original and creative television on a Saturday night. It might all be justifiable if the winner could look forward to something resembling a music career. Where is Michelle McManus anyway?

Lurching back towards the Beeb I regret to report that their encore to Strictly is Dr Who. Christ's arse....this is rubbish isn't it? I can't work out if the BBC want us to take it seriously or not. The later time slot suggests that we are expected to. This isn't CBeebies. But the Doctor looks like he's about to pass into the next life at any given moment. Is this intentional? He looks critically ill in a way that even William Hartnell could never manage. In a brazened attempt to uphold the traditions of the programme the aliens and monsters remain straight out of a primary school stage production. It's as if CGI had never been invented. The result is a puerile and pitiful attempt at sci-fi that would make the creators of the original series of Star Trek blush. And this is prime time on a Saturday. How does this happen? Is it that they know there's only me who is socially inept enough to be at home channel hopping at this time on a Saturday night? Is that it?

In the end I resorted to repeats of Dave Gorman's Modern Life Is Goodish (unlike modern tv which as we have seen is shitish). It's on Dave. Dave on Dave. I've seen that particular episode, in which Dave tries to decipher how YouGov have deemed the fans of Little Mix to be more politically right wing than those of Adolf Hitler, a number of times now and it still feels more original than anything on the Saturday night schedules of the free-to-air broadcasters. Saturday Night Dross, my dad used to call it just as he made his escape to the nearest social club. That was 30 years ago and he was talking about Game For A Laugh and The Price Is Right. The really awful stuff. If anything we've regressed since then.

Of course there is a large portion of laughable shit on Sky too. I've watched three episodes of an enviably terrible drama called Blindspot on Sky. It's about a woman who turns up in a bag in the middle of Times Square in New York. You know, the sort of thing that happens every day. She doesn't know who she is. She can't remember, but she has the name of an FBI agent tattooed to her body. Aswell as a number of other tattoos that make Michael Schofield's prison map efforts look like he's allergic to ink. Every week she and the FBI argue about whether or not she should go with them to their latest assignment. She always goes, and she always beats the shit out of someone three times her size. Turns out she is an ex-navy SEAL. In the latest instalment they identified her DNA, so that should at least cut out the irritating debates about who she is over the coming weeks. More time for beating up bad guys. Dreadful. But I'll keep watching in the spirit of you X-Factor fans who apparently know that what you are watching is bullshit yet you press on regardless. You troopers. I can sort of see how that happens after a few episodes of Blindspot. I drew the line at Supergirl, however.

So apart from Dave on Dave is there anything good on television anywhere? Does anything meet with my approval? Everyone likes Homeland, don't they? After a rip-roaring start in its first two series it has chugged along pointlessly for a couple of years but seems now, in its fifth term, to be back to its best. The writers seem to have twigged that the audience is irritated by Carrie's mania but they seem unable to let it go completely. That's probably because Claire Daines is so exceptionally good at playing someone annoying, so they take her back to it from time to time. All of which makes for a bit of an inconsistent mish-mash but if you can put that aside there is much still to enjoy. (Spoiler alert) Alison Carr is a CIA mole in the very finest traditions, almost 24-esque in her indecision about which side she is on. We should have been suspicious of her from the very moment we found out that she was sleeping with Saul Berenson. There just had to be an ulterior motive for her to be shacking up with him and his frightful upside down head. Meanwhile Carrie's inevitable future squeeze Peter Quinn continues to cheat death in ever more elaborate and interesting ways. He's like a superhero with no cape. Far more interesting than that self-satisfied ideologically befuddled prat Brodie. I haven't been as glad to see the back of anyone since Thatcher resigned. And I was only 14 when that happened.

Homeland has been around for a while, having more than enough time to establish itself. The Last Panthers is still trying to find its way into the national consciousness but on the evidence so far it might just catch on. It ticks an important box for modern day television drama in that it is mostly subtitled. Strictly speaking a drama needs to be subtitled and Scandinavian to have the critics fawning over its brilliance, but setting this tale of diamond heists around mainland Europe was the next best thing. I've absolutely no idea who is who and what their motivations are despite being four episodes into the first series. This is mostly due to everything being darkly lit and everyone having the same haircut. What I do know is that some bad guys have done something wrong relating to diamonds and in the process of doing something wrong relating to diamonds they have managed to kill a small child. Samantha Morton and John Hurt are running around in pursuit while not getting on very well. If nothing else it is nice to see Hurt in good health after seeing him at Wimbledon in the summer looking ill to the point where he was hardly recognisable.

However that ends, let's hope it does so more plausibly than the mostly excellent but ultimately deflating London Spy. Now this was something the Beeb could be proud of broadcasting, for a time at least. Not a desperate celebrity nor a pompous judge in sight. It starred the currently ubiquitous Ben Wishaw as Danny, an ordinary bloke from London who just happens to be gay and one day happens upon a chance meeting with the mysterious Alex. From a starting position of butt-clenching awkwardness they eventually hit it off and begin a relationship, whereupon Alex is suddenly murdered. Over the course of this five-part series Alex turns out to be called Alistair, and Danny finds out that the name of his lover is not the only thing that he didn't really know about him. In support of Danny is his friend Scotty, a father-figure of a presence played by the usually comic but always brilliant Jim Broadbent. He's gay too, and he probably has a bit of a thing for Danny. It's all very complex and intriguing as Danny fights to convince everyone that he has nothing to do with Alistair's murder. That is until the clumsy and unlikely denoument which even the presence of Charlotte Rampling can do nothing to redeem.

London Spy was fresh and innovative, but in the absence of too much else which fits that description I find myself still plodding on with what are by now old favourites in serious danger of running their course. The Blacklist is one example of this. For how long can Red and Elizabeth's mysterious, slightly creepy relationship keep us in suspense? It seems that the answer to that lies in how many contrived scenarios involving notorious criminal masterminds can be conjured up by its writers. While some of those may grate, none of them can compare on that score to the head-banging irritant that is Agent Ressler, a man last seen trying to schmooze up to Brodie's wife in Homeland while the latter was away wrestling with the thorny issue of whether to blow himself up. Actually, he succeeded in the schmoozing, for a time. Until they all got written out of it for the greater good. But he's back here and he's schmoozing again, but this time its FBI Agent Navabi, who seconds after finding out that her brother who she believed to be dead was actually a well-connected terrorist, jumped into the sack with television's greatest predator of the emotionally vulnerable. And I thought Red was creepy....

Last on my list for now is Elementary. Goodness only knows how many series we are into now of the US drama based on English literary stalwarts Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. Too many. But when you start watching something from the beginning it takes either a special kind of will power or a special kind of awfulness for me to not see it through to the end. Three series of The Following testify to this, as do a mammoth seven series of Lost, which truly was lost by the time it reached its airy-fairy, ambiguous conclusion. And that bloke is in charge of the new Star Wars movies. My apprehension about The Force Awakens is palpable. It's all a bit like making Tony Blair a sepcial envoy to the middle east. As if anyone would be that mad. What? Oh.

Back to Elementary, and Holmes is still English, but lives in New York with the American Dr Watson. She (yes, she) used to be a surgeon and is now some kind of happy-clappy life coach sent by Holmes' father to assist him with his various addictions. But Watson ditched that idea some time ago and instead has been schooled by Holmes in the art of detective work. Together they interfere in everything dug up by the NYPD and, irritatingly, the brilliant Holmes always finds the solution while the ordinary law enforcement people scratch their heads in bewilderment. The best thing about Elementary is Holmes' lack of social skills. I think they are trying to suggest that he has some form of autism or aspergers syndrome. Anything that perpetuates the myth that the disabled are actually all geniuses gets my vote. The worst thing about it is that there is no middle ground for anyone trying to play along at home and work out who the killer is each week. It's either blindingly obvious when they first appear on screen, or it's someone who hasn't been mentioned until about seven minutes before the end when it all gets rather hastily put into place.

Rather like one of my TV review pieces....

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Not In My Name

The UK is at war again. After a vote among MP's it has been decided that military action against Syria is the answer to the world's recent ills. This decision, with its inevitable loss of civilian life in that part of the world, was shamefully cheered to the rafters of the Palace Of Westminster by the MPs in favour and has been loudly backed by the usual war-fancying 'patriots' on social media and in the public eye. These of course include Prime Minister David Cameron, who outrageously suggested in public this week that anyone who opposes this action is a terrorist sympathiser.

To recap in case you have been in any world but this one these last few weeks. Almost three weeks ago a group of extremist maniacs arbitrarily murdered over 100 restaurant and theatre-goers in Paris, and also tried to blow up the Stade de France during France's international football friendly with Germany that same night. Three people died in that incident. It could have been a lot more. Now clearly this is horrific. Rightly we were angry and scared by this, and rightly we showed our solidarity with France and expressed our deepest sympathy for their losses. Or most of us did. There were those who made the somewhat sickening argument that the French would not have done the same for us, and so by that rather speculative logic we should not worry our heads about them. Fuck the French was essentially their message.

All of which makes it all the more surprising to note that now, in their call for someone or something to eradicate the terrorist group responsible, these same people are citing this attack on the French as a compelling reason for UK involvement in an aerial bombing campaign in Syria. These people who so dislike the French, use terms like 'frogs' in 2015, and who endlessly bang the drum for the UK to have nothing more to do with the EU, are nevertheless so enraged by what happened in Paris that they want someone to pay. Even if they're innocent. Syria as a nation state is no more responsible for ISIS than the USA is for the two whackos who killed 14 people in a social services centre in San Bernardino today. President Obama will not be authorising a bombing campaign on California any time soon. Nor should he.

This lust for blood might not be as baffling and frankly unpalatable to me if there was even the remotest chance that it would eliminate or even reduce the risk of terrorism in the UK and Europe. Yes it may have a significant impact on ISIS and its resources, but so too will it radicalise others who may then plot more atrocities around the world. In the city where you live, perhaps, or the beach you use on your holidays. As we have seen before with Iraq following 9-11 our miltary interventions tend to cause more problems than they solve, further destabilising the middle east and perpetuating this endless cycle. The idea that we can end terrorism by bombing Syria is berserk. The fact that it is all being sold to us by a toff twat in a suit who won't be anywhere near a war zone throughout is just stomach turning. Just as his claim that we are all in this austerity thing together is bogus, so his suggestion that 'we' must go to war to fight terrorists is similarly insulting.

So bomb whoever you like Dave (not California). You're going to do it anyway. Just don't do it in my name.