Friday 23rd December


Well the festive spirit that has so far eluded me is starting to stir after a cinema excursion to see the wonderful James Stewart in the perennial classic It’s A Wonderful Life. Despite gushing in lachrymose Hollywood sentimentality this film and its themes about how friendship-borne out of goodwill to others- is the most valuable currency never fails to bring a tear to the oasis free desert that are my eyes. Trying to attain the right Xmas feelings got off to an ominous start at  the beginning of the week when I thought watching Roman Polanski’s classic about the devil being summoned up to impregnate an unsuspecting newly wed in Rosemary’s Baby would be suitable. Not exactly traditional Xmas fare I am aware but it unfortunately captured my mood at the time. This feeling of cynicism passed however and armed with a hot chocolate-topped up with a shot of Amaretto-and a clutch of hankies I sat down to Frank Capra’s tale about an angel in search of his wings and a man looking for a reason to keep on living more than willing to be seduced by its –admittedly contrived- sentiments. It did the trick however and I left the cinema with a warm glow and the need to walk along Princes Street through the French and German markets- strange how there is no Scottish Market at a time of year when the tourists arrive in numbers second only to the Festival-soaking up the Xmas spirit and I don’t mean the mulled wine.

Elsewhere this week the news has been full of reports about racist comments made on the field by England and Chelsea captain John Terry. I am not sure whether making racist comments makes a person a racist but this is something I will leave to the politically correct obsessed twittering classes. Racism-and any other form of derogatory bullying and bigotry whether it concerns someone’s sexual orientation or colour- itself is something which should not be tolerated in any form but sometimes the PC brigade jump onto their moral high horse with indignation and unhealthy self righteousness. This was never more in evidence than when in the midst of the Terry debacle pundit Alan Hansen  unwittingly and sympathetically referred to ‘coloured’ people and another outcry broke out as Twitter went into meltdown. Having studied Black American Literature at University I became aware so many terms were considered offensive and African American was the only acceptable one though I am not sure if this is still the case and have probably offended someone somewhere. Before I am accused of being sympathetic towards Terry or any others accused of being abusive I need to say I have been called enough names in my time-often by friends who think they are merely being ironic or funny though I feel they find it funnier than I actually do- to understand how this can have an adverse effect but am fortunate to have an inner strength to laugh it off as I get the joke. However not everyone has  inner strength and enough confidence to withstand the abuse hurled at them and there is no reason they should feel equipped to do so. Bullying is bullying full stop and has no place anywhere in today’s society.

A few years ago I reviewed a show which used the words ‘nigger’ and ‘queer’ repeatedly and for little reason as they were not hinged on any particular jokes and instead the words alone were supposed to engender a laugh. In my review I complained about this and the performers replied by claiming they were being ‘ironic’. A lame excuse and one frequently trundled out. My response was that the umbrella of irony would not shelter those who had to suffer a torrent of abuse on the streets for simply being what they are. After this they did change their show to remove the offending segments but what struck me was how the audience on the night was divided in their reactions. More than half were disgusted by what we saw-several walked out- but a younger element mostly pissed up on alcopops laughed –sometimes admittedly uncomfortably- and it was almost visible to see them recognise using such terms could be acceptable as they had seen it on stage in what was billed as an ‘edgy’ show. For this the performers were not only inappropriate but also totally irresponsible.

The point I am trying to make is not whether Terry is guilty of racism but that is what is under the spotlight here is how as a role model-well paid and successful in his sphere- he should have been more responsible. Mind you football pitches are charged with excessive amounts of competitive testosterone and players are hardly renowned for their high IQ’s-this not me being hypocritically judgmental as most are removed from school to train before their education is complete and there is the interesting tale of how David Beckham was unable to spell professional footballer on his first contract– so this combines to create a lethal cocktail. Under the scrutiny of thousands of fans and the ever present cameras which he should be used to by now he should have exerted some restrain. As he didn’t he should be punished accordingly and not only to satisfy the righteous twittering classes but because he was wrong.

 A drama on channel 4 last night about the summer riots in London could have focussed on the racist angle-many in the press and elsewhere were pointing the finger at troublesome black youths as ringleaders- but instead sensibly chose to tell the story through the inhabitants and shopkeepers in the area alongside that of the police. Actually it was interesting to note in the credits how the police refused to co-operate in the making of the drama and if their portrayal in the sequence of events was accurate then it is understandable why they would not want to be seen in such an unfavourable light. It was an interesting hour long programme which could have been longer although its brevity captured some of the urgency of the situation. As it did not target any part of society as the troublemakers what became clear during its duration is the problems which sparked the riots are malignant in our society and the lack of resolution means they are bubbling away under the surface and could erupt again at anytime. Channel 4 were brave to show this so soon after the events and as such it was not afforded the pontificating and clarity of hindsight which usually accompanies such programmes. Instead the freshness and lack of clarity conspired to make it feel almost like a docudrama with gravitas and it was borne of the testimony of those who found themselves unwillingly at the centre of the maelstrom.

Nothing like that would ever happen in Chelsea however, whose civilised inbred inhabitants returned for a seasonal special of Laid In Chelsea, as they are all too busy shagging each other then obsessing and regretting it before moving onto their second/fourth removed cousin. Actually the Spencer and Caggie fauxmance shifted up a gear as they consummated their relationship during a jaunt to Finland. Thank God as the will they/won’t they yawnathon could not have withstood a third series. Meanwhile Millie cried a lot –again- about Hugo whilst Rosie’s overactive thyroid stary, scary eyes were nearly as overactive as her overactive gossipy mouth.

Whilst the posh folk of Chelsea were in Lapland their Essex counterparts were in Lapland where Joey and Chloe ruminated about Reindeer antlers. The look on their faces when they were informed they were not made of wood but in fact bone was comedy genius as they could not comprehend such a notion. Mind you from two people who previously had a conversation concerning one of them discovering that the sun and moon were not one planet- with Britain getting the front half whilst Australia was in receipt of the back which explained how it was day here whilst night there!- this is hardly surprising.

Elsewhere this week the BBC showed some great footage of David Bowie from 1973-during the 1970’s his greatest era he only appeared on Top of the Pops three times- in all his glam rock pomp performing The Jean Genie. This was an amazing find as the original tapes had been wiped and nobody believed a copy existed or in some cases whether the performance had actually taken place. However one of the cameramen had kept a copy and had not realised it was such a valuable piece until he mentioned it and someone informed him he was in possession of a great piece of British rock history. Here it is in all its glam rock splendour and after it is a classic version of Little Drummer Boy by Low sounding like the Velvet Underground meets The Jesus and Mary Chain from what is probably my favourite Xmas album. Merry Xmas!

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