Posts Tagged ‘power to the press’

Verbs, and other confusing concepts

March 28, 2011 3 comments


Not to come over all Munchausen by proxy, but I must confess I’ve been looking up symptoms all day. Because there seems to be a plague, a plague I tell you, sweeping the country. The only symptom I’ve been able to pin down with any degree of certainty is this: the inability to tell the difference between ‘sitting down’ and ‘throwing things’. Annoyingly, it fits no diagnostic criteria I can find. But what if it spreads? What if we become unable to tell the difference between ‘eating something’ and ‘writing something’? The end of days, my friends, the end of days.

I have known many, many deeply irritating and offensive people in my time. Most of them are my friends. And they do many things which could annoy almost anyone. But generally speaking, I, and everyone else they annoy, can tell the difference between when they sit down and when they throw things. And one of these things is much worse than the other. For example, sometimes they sit down for too long and refuse to leave or go to bed; this can be distinctly inconvenient. However my reaction to this is of a very different degree of irritation to that which I experience if they throw things. That reaction tends to be brisk and efficient and marks the end of any good evening.

So on Saturday some things happened, in case anyone has been under a rock. And then there was news coverage. The things were as follows:

There was a march.

There was a peaceful occupation, which I will refer to as a sit in even if they were sometimes standing.

There was throwing of things.

These were three different events, represented by three different verbs. Despite the fact that standing and sitting are now growing confusing for me (because you see, this plague is almost certainly contagious) I am still fairly sure that I can see the difference in these verbs  – marching, sitting, throwing things.

Unlike in rock-paper-scissors, one of these things will always win. So, as ever, rock-throwing-pillocks make the papers, ensuring minimal coverage for those fighting the cuts.

Right at the start of the march I saw an odd sight: lots and lots of young people – teenagers, young teenagers – all getting dressed up in their best black uniform and matching headwear. Watching teenagers ‘suit up’ is not a pleasant experience. It is against the laws of god and man and any right thinking person recoils from it as from eating spoiled meat – there is something truly unnatural about a group of teenagers willingly donning a uniform.

Happily, being younger than us, they moved much faster than us, and we didn’t see them for long. Off they scampered through the crowd on their young legs, off to throw things. These little pillocks were the black bloc(k), which I refuse to capitalise, because they don’t deserve capital letters. They are also Wankers, which I am happy to capitalise, just for emphasis.

Had the convenient UKUncut not been around to pick up the blame, we, the peaceful, kid-carting, wheelchair-using massive who schlepped two miles in about five hours, would have been picking up the slack for those little pillocks and their actions. ‘A vote for Labour is a vote for anarchy,’ some balanced news-rag would have proclaimed, and we would have been indignant. We would have been blamed for kids out for kicks, which is what most of them were, and we would have been furious because walking is not the same as throwing things.

Instead UKUncut are carrying the blame for something that is nothing to do with them – as little to do with them as it is to do with us, the general marchers. The black block (teenagers who like wearing uniforms for fun at the weekend) are football hooligans. I’m fairly sure we figured out a while back that professional football hooligans can’t be blamed on football fans, no matter how annoying we might find football fans. These are two unrelated, albeit juxtaposed, groups. Even if the football fans are ‘drinking’ and ‘singing’ we are forced to acknowledge that they are not ‘stabbing people’ or ‘throwing rocks.’ It comes back to those  verb-things.

Sit ins, even if they aren’t your cup of tea, are not violent, and they are not the actions of the unmitigated jackasses who ran riot on Saturday. Sit ins, at worst, are the unwelcome guests who want to sing one more song at 4am when you’d prefer to just go to bed. Not the same as the twat who came along with them who, off his face, is now putting his fist through a window.

Getting these things confused is the same as blaming a random member of the police force for killing Ian Tomlinson or blaming a random priest for abusing kids – illogical, annoying, probably libellous and utterly, utterly self-defeating.

So I continue to search the medical databases. What could be the cause for this sudden inability differentiate between verbs? Is it cognitive? A new variant of synthaesia? Wilful myopia? We need to figure this out, people, because until we do we’re going to continue to sound like fucking idiots. And this country is already being run by enough of those.

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A story about someone who had sex.

December 13, 2009 1 comment

Back in the country where I come from, a long time ago, this would have been a story. An almighty scandal of a story that would haunt that individual until the day that individual died or emigrated. It would have affected their career, their place in society, their ability to carry on a normal life. It was not a civilised land, the country I come from, back in the good old days. It was a land where pugnacious moral custodians stalked the parishes, careful to mark any and all who night deviate from a strict – and usually unwritten – ethical code with the mark of the beast.

But time rolls on and I live in London and I work in the public sector. At regular intervals I look around and find that life is quite remarkably civilised. Fair hiring practices, transparent firing practices, and an absolute understanding that if you live your life within the boundaries of the law, your behaviour will not be noted down, used against you and gossiped about by vacuous creeps. We have laws about it and everything. It helps, of course, that we are ten years into a new millennium and no one who could conceivably call themselves civilised would create a massive public commotion over a person having consensual sex. No one would really say that this was a horrific betrayal of the trust we so naively placed in them, unless that person was the betrayed partner of the sex-having person in question. We have decommissioned the pillory and the public stocks, and we’re mighty chuffed with ourselves, unless we’re Mail readers. We, as a society, don’t judge a person’s ability to do their job on how they manage their private life.

Unless they’re really, really good at their job. Unless they’re famous for their ability to do their job. Because if they were so spectacularly good at their job that they had become world-renowned for doing their job then it would be very, very important that we know who they had sex with.

Halleluiah, I’m back in 1950s Ireland. I missed it the first time round what with not having yet been born, but now though public obsession with media figures I, too, can begin to imagine what it was like to live in a thoroughly nauseating moral autocracy.

The lovely thing about our particular moral autocracy is that we don’t have to believe in the values it espouses. Not really. We certainly don’t have to make claim to living by them. No, we just have to follow the tabloid-esque stories and spend our godforsaken lives ruminating about them like the bovine cretins we apparently are.

Conceive of it, if you will: a teacher in this country, in this year, publicly denounced and mocked in the press for what I believe is known as ‘marital infidelity’. Named, photographed, stalked, harassed. Career prospects in doubt because no employer will wish to be associated with so degenerate a monster.

Switch the picture: it’s a doctor now. Does that make it any better? If it was an actor? A politician? Now we’re getting places. Or, say, maybe, a figure in popular sports. Ah, why didn’t you say so? Yes, that provides ample justification for bored commuters to turn what passes for their attention to the lessons learnt so well from Arthur Miller. He’s a fucking witch!

And so we end the first decade of the twenty-first centaury with the news headline that a man had sex. Don’t worry – it’s not as though much else of note happened in the last ten years. Fin de fucking siecle indeed.

Pass me a drink.