Friday, June 08, 2018

Undercover Cop Out

So, while I've spent the week feeling exhausted, all sorts of things have been happening in the real world without me commenting on them.  Let's kick off with that whole Lush business, where the cosmetics store chain decided to launch a campaign to draw attention to the current investigation into the misdemeanours of deep cover police officers, (there have been numerous cases of them infiltrating things like environmental groups under assumed identities and acting as agents provacateurs not to mention marrying female activists and fathering children under these false identities).  They did this through a series of provactive window displays involving police tape and displays apparently labeling police liars.  I must admit, that when I first saw one of these window displays I was somewhat taken aback, initially not realising what it was about.  But, it's a fair enough campaign - this is an issue which has dropped out of the headlines of late, but raises legitimate concerns as to how far we can trust our own police and how accountable they are,

Unfortunately, not everyone seems to agree and a disturbing counter campaign, which effectively said that the police were above criticism emerged.  Most worryingly, much of it seemed to be conducted by police officers, not just on social media, but in the real world as well, with off duty officers allegedly visiting Lush stores and 'persuading' staff to remove the displays.  Which, surely, is as clear a abuse of their position as you can get.  Anyway, in the face of this campaign of intimidation Lush have, sadly, decided to suspend their campaign. Which is a pity - it makes a refreshing change to find a retail chain getting involved in a campaign with a social conscience.  If nothing else, it has highlighted the dangerous attitudes toward the police that permeate much of the media and public, that they are beyond criticism and must be blindly supported.  Any attempt to hold them to account when they step over the line into possible criminality has to be brutally repressed.  Is it any wonder that, in recent years, the police seem to have been, quite literally, getting away with murder?

Stepping away from the controversy, we also had a couple of celebrity deaths this week.  Peter Stringfellow was the one who seemed to get the biggest headlines.  In The Sun, at least, to whom he seemed some kind of icon.   He was their kind of guy.  'HE SHAGGED WOMEN!'  'HE MADE WOMEN GET THEIR TITS OUT!' 'HE PROBABLY SHAGGED THEM UP THE ARSE!'  Yeah.  Fuck off.  I once saw Peter Stringfellow on the street in London, more than twenty years ago.  He looked like shit.  In fact, the Queen Mother, who I had seen minutes before, as she swept past us plebs in her official Daimler, looked far better - and she was about a hundred and seventy then.  And had probably just been taken out of a freezer, (the truth is that she died somewhen in the eighties, but they froze her body and thawed her out for official appearances - they operated her with strings to give the impression of life - before sticking her back in the freezer). 

The other celebrity death of the week was more significant for me:  Glynn Edwards, aka 'Dave the Barman' from Minder.  Despite being best remembered for the latter role, he was a constant fixture in a host of British films and TV series from the sixties onwards, always turning in enjoyable performances.  He was in everything, from featured roles in Get Carter and Zulu to schlock classics like The Blood Beast Terror and The Playbirds. (His police sergeant gets to deliver a classic piece of understatement in Blood Beast Terror, when he remarks to Peter Cushing's Inspector, after they have destroyed a blood sucking woman-turned-giant moth by lighting a bonfire, which, being a moth, she flies into, that 'they'll never believe this at The Yard, sir').  He also got to play a lead role when he played one half of Burke and Hare, which also featured his then wife, Yootha Joyce.  I never met Glynn Edwards.  In fact, I never even saw him in the flesh, as I had Peter Stringfellow.  But my dad knew him.  Back in his pre-fame days, of course.  Like my late father (and myself), Edwards was a native of Salisbury and his parents ran a pub that my dad, in his younger says, drank in, which was where he met a young Glynn Edwards.  He actually followed Edwards' career with some interest, as he had, apparently, seemed the unlikeliest of potential successful actors.  But he was a success, becoming one of the most recognisable and reliable of his generation of character actors, showing his versatility in a wide range of roles.  And, as 'Dave the Barman' (the character was actually called 'Dave Harris'), he achieved a kind of immortality.

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