shinytoaster: (Rainbow)
Well, if they're going to make the Secret Policeman's Balls a more regular thing again, that can only be good. I did some stuff with Amnesty International at school and it's very worthwhile and very important and I genuinely think there are few organisations more deserving of a couple of hours of your time every so often.

Every so often, since, 1976, they organise these gigs; Wikipedia notes the first was organised by John Cleese, and they had heavy Python/Beyond the Fringe involvement from the outset. They did a bunch in the 80s but they seem to have trailed off in recent years. I was only dimly aware of the name, and missed the previous revival in 2001, which was organised by St Eddie of Izzard. Who was on tonight as well, doing much the same jokes about God as he's been doing since Definite Article. I mean, I love Eddie, seriously, but his stand-up is, to put it politely, remarkably ... thematically consistent.

Then there were highlights from Russell Brand - who is both an incredibly funny man and an incredible cunt, which means I am conflicted internally - and the Pub Landlord, and, oh, a whole bunch of people, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Stephen Mangan off Green Wing, Richard E Grant, Jo Brand, Seth Green, Chevy Chase for some reason ... and more ...

Unfortunately, the lowlight was Sarah Silvermann. I've been desperate to see some of her stand-up since I read this incredibly interesting article about her in the Observer magazine earlier in the year, all about how she was controversial and yet and at the same time very Jewish. And then I saw her on tone of those Comedy Central Roasts and she was good on that, and so I bounced about a bit in my armchair when they announced her on stage ... and it turned out her stand-up is actually shit. It's not even pseudo-offensive comedy, although it tries to be, God bless her, she's just really, really lame. She's the sort of person who would come on stage at Komedia or Jongleurs and just have people talking through her set. In fact, I think the audience were actually talking through her set. There was certainly precious little laughter. So, you know, I don't need to see her again in anything ever.

If you ever get the chance to see this one, then watch it. It was a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours nevertheless.
shinytoaster: (Fucking Squirrel)
The front page of this week's Closer reads 'Why I left my toddler for a 16 year old boy.' Which I think, bluntly, tells you most of what you need to know about Britain in the middle of the Noughties.

This leads me in a vague way on to The Amazing Mrs Pritchard, which I watched last night and has subsequently been ripped to shreds by every critic in the land. I will say I actually quite enjoyed it on a funny level (funny ha-ha) but its faults were truly manifold and whilst an enjoyable hour's romp, I will add that it was also supremely patronising. It seriously asked the audience to accept that a hard-nosed Thatcher-worshipping flaming Tory harridan who was clearly modelled on Justine Greening would defect to Jane Horrocks' maverick Purple Alliance just because she loaned her a fucking tampon.

And with all due respect to feminists everywhere, how come every drama that portrays strong women in a positive light has to by default portray men as feeble-minded, penis-lead little boys? there is such a thing as balance and this show lacked it in buckets. It's disrespectful to everyone.

This could have been such a good little drama about a maverick, unsung, inexperienced female politician coming up through the ranks to form a credible new party and enjoying moderate success at an election, but instead the Tristrams in charge had to go all out and blow the budget on a landslide New Labour defeat that was accomplished in an hour's screen time, with no back-story, disjointed scenes, grossly over-accelerated passage of time and precious little plot. It would have been funny, it would have been watchable.

Never mind, I like Jane Horrocks and next week they appear to have Jan Ravens playing the Queen, so I may watch it again.

This morning, I am told that www.purplealliance.org is redirecting to UKIP...
shinytoaster: (Default)
In a letter to The Times, published in 2004 and subsequently reprinted in the pages of New Internationalist, one Dr H. Tabar lets fly:

The cowardice of our clerics in pushing their heads firmly in the sand, not confronting the misguided and the extremists amongst us, is an affront to all that I regard as holy. If they have not the courage to declare the Islamic suicide terrorists as apostates, then perhaps they would be good enough to declare me as one, for I would rather burn in the eternal flames of Hell than share Paradise with the likes of them.

I believe he somewhat missed the point. Speaking on Radio 4 throughout the day, representatives of organisations including the Muslim Council of Britain have disavowed the actions of the terrorists.

"They are not Muslims," they say.

But they are Muslims. Incontrovertibly so. And by disavowing their activities, British Islamic leaders do not seem to realise that they make it harder to confront the realities of what is happening within that religion.

The Koran is, to my mind, very much like the Bible and very much like the Torah inasmuch as it was written many, many centuries ago to fit the lifestyles of a people who were very, very different to us. Wandering in a hot, dusty desert, it makes sense to avoid eating any shellfish you might come across, after all. But times change and our interpretations of our culturally 'holy' texts changed, too.

For sure, many Christians got left behind in the rush to re-interpret, witness the bigotry of Fred Phelps or the blind idiocy of the Pope's teachings on birth control. And as there are groovy Christians, so there are Reform Jews who'll eat bacon and don't see the need to drink Kosher wine - which is widely accepted as undrinkable. And as there are nasty Christians, so there are maddened sects who want to blow up Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple.

Looking at Islam it begins to appear to me that this religion is perhaps undergoing the same process. Certainly as practised in Saudi Arabia and other such places, it appears very much to behave like Christianity did in the past.

So I think now, my point is that Islam needs to undergo a process of immense change, and the change needs to come from within, and it needs to be lead by the secular leaning, educated Islam of the West. It is no good denying the religion of the bombers. I can deny Fred Phelps' Christianity but it doesn't make him not a Christian.

Of course we have no right to blame all British Muslims for what happened yesterday, and the avalanche of hate e-mail and reported attacks on Islamic interests in Britain since yesterday is truly sickening. But I really firmly believe that Islam needs to take the initiative and get its house in order. Denying that the terrorists have anything to do with Islam is no longer the way forward. Confronting the evil within is.

As for what took place yesterday, my shock has turned to anger, and there are feelings over which I feel guilty. In some sense, there's relief that we've 'had' our attack now and, by all accounts, Al Qaeda do not seem to be in the habit of conducting 'campaigns' like the IRA. I feel fairly confident in saying I don't think there'll be another one in these parts. Then there's fear where the next one may be? Rome? Sydney?

Listening to the radio earlier, a studio discussion turns to competing theories as to whether or not this was a suicide attack. There seems to be some hope that it was, for if we catch them what will we do with them? The Sun and the Mail will call for the rope and the scaffold, and although I live to the left of the political spectrum and am naturally against the death penalty, my anger at them makes me want to see them suffer: I am only human, it appears.

I can't say I think pride is the right word to describe the sense one gets of being part of this city after the bombings. But I can say I feel satisfaction in the behaviour and conduct and civilised, beautiful stoicism of the people around and about me - the one person on my friends list who quoted the Smiths lyric: 'panic on the streets of London' should know how completely wrong I think they got it. Panic is not the word for me, as pride is not the right word for me. Panic, if it happened at all, was quiet and restrained and not at all panicky. So today I'm satisfied and strangely calm, and my love for the city I already loved is not dimmed.

As for 'burning in fear' I say pfah. We're cool. Even if we're in the wrong over Iraq, we're in the right here. And to you who would dispute our right to live as we like, you can go stick your head in a bucket. Because it's going to be okay. We have counted to a hundred and we are coming to find you now, and we will not stop until every Londoner has slapped you in the face with their shoes.

An Entry

May. 25th, 2005 09:22 pm
shinytoaster: (Default)
This week, I have been working at a property investment company. We cold call people. In contravention of the Data Protection Act. Happily most people are not sufficiently on the ball to recognise this. They are, however, sufficiently on the ball to tell me to go away when I ring them.

I absolutely hate cold calling. It was one thing I said I would not do when I signed up with Brook Street, and they committed me to this placement without telling me it involved cold calling, so I'm kind of mad at them right now.

Anyway, this afternoon we had a fire alarm. A real one. The firemen came and everything. They didn't get their hoses out to play, though. Most of them hid in the tenders. It was certainly the highlight of my day. One of the ground floor units in our building which was unaccountably not evacuated had a freezer with strawberry Cornettos in it. And it was quite hot. So there was ice cream and banter and abuse from a couple of drunks in army fatigues.

The company is clearly a huge con. It's full of wideboys called Tony who spell Tony Toni, to which I have no objection as long as you have boobs. Let me assure you that Toni does have boobs, but not quite in the sense I was thinking of. He also looks like Pat Sharp. I can't wait to get out of there. Away from the boobs. And Toni. Whenever I get near him I have an urge to pipe up with a few bars of Unbreak My Heart.

Basically, what we do is organise seminars with titles like 'YOU TOO CAN BE A PROPERTY MILLIONAIRE', generally in various airport Hiltons, in which we entice people to buy properties in Spain and Florida, selling them as off-plan, which means you take a look at the architect's drawings and buy the property before it's built. Smart move.

I have nightmare visions of ending up working there permanently, and in a few years being pursued across a muddy building site by Nicky Campbell and a BBC camera crew; "Is it true the condos in Boca Raton all had Legionnaires Disease? What happened to the 2 million pounds we thought you had, and how come you own ten thousand pairs of shoes?"

Talking of nightmare visions, last night I had a political nightmare, in which I was trying to unify a split cabinet. Then I dreamed I was being bullied by Gordon Brown because I was going out with Michael Howard. Then I kissed Michael Howard. On the lips.

Even my dreams pollute me.

I am not sleeping, either. I had a miserable time on Sunday night. Monday night was not much better, and last night as I was drifting off, my brain suddenly went "I wonder what it feels like to be conscious of falling asleep. Let's stay awake and find out." The upshot of this was that I was very tired and nearly drifting off, but every time I started to float away, my brain kicked in and went, "Wow, this is so cool" and woke me up again. This is how come I ended up sitting up in bed at 2:30 this morning with Classic FM on, reading a chapter of Jeremy Paxman's excellent 'The English,' which is what I do when I can't sleep. This had the effect of wearing my brain out a bit more so that then it got too fuxored to concentrate on what falling asleep felt like, and actually let me fall asleep. My brain truly has a mind of its own.

December 2011

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