Thursday, February 26, 2009

Liar, Liar

Who is Britain’s biggest liar? Is it “historian” David Irvine, who has sought to deny that the holocaust ever took place? Or perhaps disgraced ex-Tory minister and London Mayoral candidate Jeffrey Archer, who has invented most of his own personal history and passed himself of as a novelist for many years (not to mention the small matter of perjury)? Maybe your vote would go to another former Tory minister and perjurer, Jonathan Aitken, who even managed to persuade his daughter to lie for him during his unsuccessful libel action against The Guardian? How about Neil Hamilton, yet another former Conservative MP, who took money from Mohammed Al Fayed and then tried to deny it? Whilst all of these men are worthy candidates for the title, we can exclusively reveal that Britain’s biggest liar is in fact one Charlie Ronce.

Although virtually unknown to the general public, Ronce has become infamous in media circles for successfully promulgating some of the greatest lies ever to see print. On several occasions he has succeeded in selling national newspapers and TV producers entirely bogus stories. Whilst many of these stories were exposed as false before publication, several have seen the light of day, resulting in a number of libel actions and expensive out-of-Court settlements. One of the most notorious of the stories to see print occurred in 1992, after Ronce had convinced the editor of a popular tabloid that the amazingly youthful good looks of popular singer and professional virgin Sir Cliff Richard were due to a diabolical pact made in 1957. Ronce introduced one of the tabloid’s reporters to 67-year old Reggie Painter, supposedly a former High Priest of the Willesden Satanist Chapter, who claimed to have presided over the ceremony in Highgate cemetery, during which Beelzebub himself appeared.

In reality, Painter was a retired school caretaker from Neasden who drank in the same pub as Ronce’s father. As a result of the bargain struck that night, according to Painter, Cliff Richard got to retain his unfeasibly good looks, but at a terrible price. Once every month he would turn into a ravening monster, forced to sacrifice a virgin and bathe in her blood in order to return to human form. According to Ronce, Cliff Richard’s involvement with the Church was merely a convenient cover for his activities, (pointing out that the moral campaigners had originally condemned Richard’s performances as being too carnal - perhaps suspecting his terrible secret), and gave him easy access to numerous virginal choristers. Ronce claimed to have photographs of Cliff Richard actually lying in a bath full of blood, taken secretly at his London home. He also had the testimonies of several maids from hotels all around the world, who complained of the unusual dark red rings they had found around Cliff Richard’s bath after he had checked out. Amazingly, Ronce was paid £5,000 for the story. Within hours of the story being printed Sir Cliff’s solicitors had started legal proceedings for libel, thousands of copies of the newspaper had been recalled and pulped, and Ronce had fled the country.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Independent Republic of Me

Personally, I blame Jean Luc Godard. If I hadn't watched Alphaville the other evening, I wouldn't have fallen into this mood of introspection. It wasn't the film's philosophical exploration of the nature of alienation which triggered this state of mind. Rather, it was the realisation that I found myself in a situation where I had absolutely nobody I could discuss the film and its ideas with. I've tried over the past couple of days, both at work and in the pub, but it is clear that nobody of my acquaintance these days is either remotely interested in French cinema's Nouvelle Vague of the 1960s, or is able to comprehend the concepts the film explores. How, I asked myself, have I arrived in such a situation? Part of the answer lies in the fact that the people knew who would have been able to have a conversation with me on the subject of Godard have moved away, to new jobs or relationships. Add to that the fact that the local pub where most of that type of person tended to meet has been taken over by an idiot and is now shunned by anyone with taste and/or a brain, making it difficult to find like-minded replacements for the departees, and the result is an intellectual desert.

However, upon reflection, I have to concede that the problem also lies, in part, with me. I've always been something of a loner and, over the years I've become extremely self-sufficient in terms of human relationships. I've effectively become the 'Independent Republic of Me' - I rarely need anyone else's help, I really don't care what others think of me and I don't feel obliged to explain myself. I neither need nor seek anybody else's approval. Whilst this state of affairs has many advantages, it comes at a price. In order to maintain my independence I have to keep the rest of the world at bay. Relationships are maintained at arm's length - I've been let down and hurt by other people to often to let them get close. Consequently, I've become somewhat isolated and alienated from the rest of humanity. Does this worry me? Occasionally. But not to the extent that I'm going to rush out and embrace the rest of humanity - the problem still remains that most of 'humanity' around here is too thick to discuss Godard films with me!


Monday, February 23, 2009

The War Lovers

I found myself watching a 1960s war film the other day. There was a time when I could watch such films uncritically, simply accepting them as mindless entertainment. However, these days I find them highly irritating. Not just for their historical inaccuracy - the film in question, Tobruk, bore only a passing resemblance to actual events in North Africa in 1942 - it is also their attitudes which I find exasperating. Tobruk is fairly typical in perpetuating the myth that the British were all a bunch of stuffed shirts who were utterly incompetent in their pursuit of the war, and were only rescued by the intervention of those plucky Americans, in this case taking the form of Rock Hudson. Now, apart from the fact that I don't recall any US involvement in either of the Battles of Tobruk, the idea that only we Brits were making mistakes in the conduct of the war is ludicrous. The US hardly covered itself in glory at the Kasserine Pass, or the breakout from Anzio, to name but two instances.

What really galled me though, was the fact that if the US hadn't spent so much time selling the Germans military equipment, we probably could have had them beaten at least two years earlier. Tobruk is one of those war movies in which every piece of military hardware with a swastika on it is of US origin. Trucks, half-tracks, even tanks, they're all US built. At least the trucks and half-tracks are actually of World War Two vintage, the tanks are 1950s and 1960s models (M-46s, M-47s and M-48s). Tobruk is another war film shot in Spain (see also Battle of the Bulge and Patton: Lust for Glory, in which the Spanish army stood in for the Wehrmacht, (quite aptly, as both were controlled by fascist dictators). Hiring themselves out for film crews was probably the closest the Spanish army ever got to actually fighting a war in the Franco era.

I've always found it fascinating that, despite being made within twenty years of the war, at a time when there were still so many people who had served in the conflict around, 1960s war movies were generally so inaccurate in terms of historical accuracy and authenticity of equipment. By contrast, more recent films have been almost obsessive in their attention to detail, despite their subject matter not being within the living memory of most of their audiences. But maybe that's the key - the earlier films relied entirely upon participants' unreliable memories for research, there being relatively little in the way of accurate written sources available in the1960s. Nowadays we have vast amounts of source material on every aspect of the war available. Whereas those who actually took part in the war wanted to put it behind them, those of us who weren't there apparently can't get enough of it!


Friday, February 20, 2009

The Joker is Wild

The nation’s japesters are mourning the sudden death of Britain’s greatest practical joker, Josiah Jacobs. Fifty-six year old Jacobs was killed in what appears to be a hit and run accident, with many of his fans suspecting that the culprit may have been one of the master japester's many victims. In a career spanning more than a quarter of a century, many prominent figures found themselves the subjects of Jacobs anarchic brand of humour. During the early 1970s he orchestrated the downfall of two successive Prime Ministers. During the February 1974 election Jacobs succeeded in passing himself off as a top American political advisor and infiltrated then Premier Ted Heath’s campaign team. There, he convinced Heath’s advisors that the naturist vote could prove vital in the forthcoming poll and arranged for Heath to appear at leading naturist convention as keynote speaker. However, a shocked Heath found himself stark bollocking naked and playing his organ, not in front of a thousand nudists, but instead in front of packed Women’s Institute conference.

The sight of a nude (apart from his dickie bow) Heath ascending through the stage of the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre, his organ pipes tall and erect, whilst playing Bach, completely destroyed his credibility with the electorate. Heath’s standing never recovered in the polls and, not surprisingly, he lost both the February and October 1974 general elections. Jacobs also had a hand in the downfall of Heath’s successor, Harold Wilson. In 1976, whilst disguised as a Ten Downing Street cleaner, Jacobs succeeded in putting marijuana into Wilson’s pipe. The effects are well documented. Barbara Castle noted in her diaries how Wilson ran around the table at a cabinet meeting, performing an impression of a steam locomotive, before playing Chancellor Roy Jenkins’ bald head like a bongo drum. Later, at the State Opening of Parliament, Wilson threw open his Gannex raincoat to reveal that he was stark naked beneath (apart from his shoes and socks). This was witnessed by the Queen Mother who, not having seen a naked man in at least thirty years, shrieked “Snake!”, grabbed the Mace from the Speaker and struck Wilson in the testicles. Shortly afterwards Wilson resigned as Prime Minister and Labour Party leader.

Jacobs leaves behind a wife and three children. "I can't imagine who could have done this," declared his grieving widow Harriet. "All his japes were carried out without malice - he was motivated solely by a spirit of fun. His victims all saw the joke and took his gags in good humour. Even former Radio One DJ Mike Smith laughed off that horrendous helicopter crash Josiah engineered in an attempt to start a feud between Smitty and Noel Edmonds. When he got of hospital he shook my husband by the hand and told him how funny it was in retrospect." Jacobs' children, however, have been less enthusiastic about their late father's activities. "He could be a real bastard to live with - there's only so many times putting cling film across the toilet bowl seems funny," says eighteen year old Daisy, who has recently passed her driving test. "It could get a bit wearing, always having to be on the look out for his 'hilarious' booby traps and jokes." Her younger sibling Toby agrees. "That time he replaced my asthma inhaler with a helium-filled replica wasn't funny - I thought I was going to die. Every time I tried to alert people to the problem, it just came out as a high-pitched wheeze! Everybody just laughed at me as I was rolling on the floor gasping for breath," the fifteen year old recalls. "I just hope he really is dead and this isn't another one of his bloody pranks. I'm terrified that at the funeral he's going to leap out of the coffin and shout 'Fooled you again!' It would just be too much for us to take."

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Small of Me (Part Three)

Feelings of inadeqaucy over the size of his manhood quickly led to top crooner Frank Sinatra becoming obsessed with penis enlargement schemes. “I went round to his place in Palm Springs once”, former 'Rat Pack' confidant Johnny Spagnotti recalls. “Frank came striding out of the bedroom stark naked apart from a half pound weight suspended from his member! It looked incredibly painful, but I didn’t like to say anything - I mean, the guy was my friend, you know?” The crooner also investigated other methods of enlargement, including a bizarre collar-like device inserted under the bell-end. “It also caused an embarrassing moment once when he was wearing it during a nightclub performance - he suddenly found himself singing “I’ve Got You Under My Foreskin” - luckily not too many of the audience noticed!” Spagnotti chuckles. Needless to say, the collar device was immediately discarded and Sinatra turned his attention to suction devices instead. His first attempts in this area were crude - his valet once arrived home to find Sinatra with his knob stuck up the vacuum cleaner nozzle - but he soon moved on to devices such as the “Wanky Doodle Dandy” patented penis enlarger.

However, this was still to no avail. Finally, in 1968, Sinatra was secretly booked into the Mexican clinic of Dr Jim Browski, a supposed penile expert who was rumoured to have increased the length of several star’s rods, including Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner and James Stewart. The 'Rat Pack’s”'leading light was subjected to gruelling six weeks of treatment which included having his blue-veined Havana strapped to a miniature rack for nine hours a day. The aim of the rack treatment was to stretch the penis by a sixteenth of an inch each day. Although Sinatra was later to claim that the treatment was a success, adding at least an inch to his length, Spagnotti remains dubious. “Its notable that Frank’s old man was never seen in public again after 1968”, he muses. “There were some rumours that in the 1970s Frank had a small rubber airbag surgically inserted in his penis. The idea was that he could inflate it like a balloon to make his dick look bigger, using a pump under his left arm pit. I do remember seeing Frankie flapping his left arm up and down maniacally when an attractive women walked past us, around this time. Come to think of it, a few broads who went with him claimed he made a lot strange noises like gas escaping wile he made out with them - but that could just have been flatulence, I guess”.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Procurer Executive

Recently released official documents have revealed how, during the 1950s and 1960s the government employed an official procurer of pornography, rent-boys and prostitutes. The primary purpose for these activities was to supply visiting foreign dignitaries and businessmen. It was hoped that by satisfying their basest desires at the taxpayer’s expense, they would be more amenable to signing contracts worth billions of pounds to the UK. However, as the Profumo affair showed, many British politicians of the period also had an insatiable appetite for prostitutes and sleaze. Consequently, the official procurer was frequently called upon to supply their needs as well. The first 'Procurer Executive' was Tory peer Lord Boothby, appointed by Prime Minister Harold MacMillan in 1959. Bisexual Boothby was considered ideal for the job, with contacts, including the notorious Kray twins, throughout the London sex trade.

One of Boothby's earliest assignments was to procure young rent-boys for a visiting Arab trade delegation. The peer proved adept at devising unusual recruitment methods - on one occasion he drove an Austin Cambridge through Piccadilly Circus with his naked arse hanging out of the window. In another celebrated incident, whilst scouting for talent for a forthcoming visit by Moroccan officials, Boothby stripped naked, sprayed himself all over with metallic paint, and lay on top of a plinth in the St Martin’s Brass Rubbing Centre whilst a party of Boy Scouts was visiting. As the 1960s progressed the government found the peer's encyclopaedic knowledge of porn and smut to be invaluable in meeting the increasing demands of British officials for bizarre erotic experiences. Indeed, by 1962 he was increasingly involved in procuring for establishment figures rather than visiting foreign dignitaries.

In one celebrated incident, Boothby spent three days scouring Soho brothels for six black prostitutes willing to dress in grass skirts and pretend to be African natives for one of War Minister Lord Carlisle’s notorious “Zulu Parties”. At these parties Lord Carlisle would strip naked and have black boot polish rubbed all over his body by a footman, before putting war paint on his face, donning a loin-cloth and dancing around his garden brandishing a spear pretending to be a Zulu chief. He would often climax his performance by buggering every male under the age of 25 present, before having frenzied sex with the “native women”, as he liked to call the prostitutes. One night the minister became so drunk that he ran out of his Hampstead house (still dressed as a Zulu warrior) and, pursued by the police, managed to reach the grounds of Buckingham Palace. Awoken by the noise, Prince Philip fired a shotgun at Lord Carlisle from an upstairs window, shouting: “Get my elephant gun Liz, the bloody natives are revolting again!”. Before His Highness could reload, the police captured Lord Carlisle. A D-Notice was swiftly issued and the incident kept out of the newspapers.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

The Privates of Frankenstein

Another British exploitation oddity rediscovered by Red Wing Video, this represents an early attempt by legendary gothic horror specialists Hammer to move their material into a more “adult” area - or does it? Hammer actually started shooting the picture in 1961 as a straightforward addition to their Frankenstein cycle, with Peter Cushing once again headlining as the eponymous anti-hero. However, after problems in early production and the withdrawal of one of the financiers - apparently dissatisfied by what he saw in the early rushes - led to Hammer abandoning the project and selling the unfinished footage to German crime, sex and sadism outfit Felchmeister. The Germans proceeded to fashion a new film around this footage. Now, instead of carrying out brain transplants, Frankenstein finds himself treating a famous male stripper Dick Wheat (Harry Barse - later to play Blojob in softcore Bond-ripoff Deviants are Forever), who has had acid thrown over his privates by a jealous rival. The good doctor proceeds to transplant a penis from a recently deceased sex-offender. The remainder of the film unfolds in a predictable fashion.

Unable to secure the services of Cushing, the new plot sees Frankenstein killed off relatively early on, beaten to death by Wheat’s demonic donger. The poor matching of Hammer sets with Felchmeister’s Frankfurt-based recreation of Victorian London gives Wheat’s subsequent rampage - the penis forces him to expose himself to women, etc. - a surreal feel. Barse is quite effective in these scenes, his whanger wildy leading him around backstreets in search of new victims whilst he cries “No, no, no!”. As the sexual atrocities become worse a Sherlock Holmes-type Scotland Yard Inspector, played by Hans Kling, is put on the case. Barse, cornered by the police, falls victim to his own possessed percy when, ripping free of the stitching, attaching it to his groin, it flies down his throat and chokes him to death. The bizarrely animated knob is run to ground in a butcher’s shop (where it badly frightens the proprietor’s wife: “It came at me - foaming at the mouth!”). The Inspector issues the amazing command, “Don’t shoot until you see the white’s of its eyes”, before the manic member is lured into a mincer.

A truly bizarre collision of the directorial styles of distinguished Hammer veteran Terence Fisher and stolid former director of Nazi propaganda films Heinz Arstreiner makes Privates of Frankenstein a must for devotees of the bizarre. Not surprisingly, Peter Cushing threatened to sue over the use of his image in the film, and his name was removed from the credits.


Friday, February 13, 2009

The Twatterati

I've dabbled with many web applications over the years, mostly with a view to using them to promote The Sleaze, and have abandoned pretty much all of them pretty quickly. The reality is that they were all pretty useless for this purpose and, as far as I could see, were utterly pointless for any other purpose. Perhaps worst of all were those 'social news' sites like Digg and Reddit. The reality of such sites are that they tend to end up run by cliques, and if you aren't part of one of these groups then the chances are that anything you submit there won't ever get sufficient votes to get ranked, regardless of its quality. As for social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, forget it. Unless you already know a lot of people already on there, they're a non-starter. And, to be frank, I really don't see the point in spending your time posting messages for your friends online - why not just phone them or, better yet, go and see them? As for the various random characters who might decide to make friend requests, well, they're not really friends, as such, are they? The reality is that they're probably only adding you as a friend to boost the number they have, as part of some contest with other users.

All of which brings me to my recent dalliance with Twitter. Now, to be honest, I've never seen the point of Twitter. What can you say in 140 words which has any meaning? Not a lot, which is why most Twitter users spend their time telling us that they're walking their dog, drinking coffee, taking a dump or having a wank. Actually, if they did the latter, some of the streams might actually be interesting. As it is, it's just another application for that online community of middle class twats who think that the minutiae of their lives is so fascinating that they have to share it. Please, don't bother. Of course, Twitter has lately been generating lots of column inches in the press due to its adoption by various celebrities. Now, much as I might like, say, Stephen Fry, I really couldn't give a toss what he's doing at any given time of day. I don't know him personally, he's not a mate or a relative and, let's face it, if he was, I'd probably keep in touch through more conventional means. Basically, it's just another ego trip for celebrity users. However, I had noticed that a couple of self-styled 'humour' sites had been using Twitter for promotional services, so I thought I'd give it a try.

I quickly found that, as with the other applications I've tried, unless you either already have friends using Twitter, or are part of a clique, or, even better, a celebrity, it is useless. Getting followers will be next to impossible. You can, of course, try following other people's Twitterings in the hope that they'll reciprocate, but as I found most of them to be utter drivel, I really couldn't bring myself to do this. Nevertheless, I quickly found two followers materialising out of nowhere. One, a French pornographer, quickly vanished, apparently banned by Twitter. The other loitered for a while but, by this evening, I was down to zero followers. I'm just talking to myself again! To be fair, it has generated a few hits - all of them from the French pornographer. But apart from that it has been an exercise in futility. Do, I will shortly be deleting my account and leaving Twitter to the Twatterati!

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Small of Me (Part Two)

Another source of insecurity to Sinatra was fellow 'Rat Packer' Sammy Davis Junior. “Sammy had an incredible schlong!” enthuses Spagnotti. “One of his party tricks was to stand by the pool and pretend it was a towel rail - the broads just loved it when they grabbed a towel off it and Sammy made it twitch! Frank was mighty jealous. Of course, it didn’t help when he found out that Sammy had been pouring the pork to his former squeeze Ava Gardner, and that she’d been telling everyone that it was the best she’d ever had! It all came to a head one night in Vegas when Frank was going to take a leak and Sammy shouted over to him ‘Say Frank, don’t forget your magnifying glass!’ Frank was incandescent with rage!”

He took a cruel revenge, setting up a fake audition for Davis in a non-existent jungle movie. Desperately needing the part to pay off gambling debts, Davis was forced to don war-paint, grass-skirt and spear and dance around with a bone through his nose, whilst Sinatra and his mob cronies watched from behind a two-way mirror. For years afterward Sinatra would humiliate Davis by showing the film of the audition at parties. Other members of the 'Rat Pack', however, were less threatening to Sinatra’s manhood. “Dean Martin had become obsessed with becoming a eunuch in order to curb his carnal urges”, Spagnotti remembers. “Every time he got drunk he tried to castrate himself. He wrapped elastic bands around his balls so tight one time, that they went black. Another time we found him in the kitchen with his testicles on the chopping board, getting ready to slice ‘em off with a meat cleaver. During this period you always had to keep Dino away from bacon slicers and mincers, also.” Peter Lawford also presented little threat: “Like most Englishmen he was a faggot. I heard he procured young boys for J Edgar Hoover and Bobby Kennedy”.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Small of Me (Part One)

Recent revelations have highlighted a darker side to legendary crooner, actor and 'Rat Pack' leader Frank Sinatra. Many of his activities - from his womanising to his links with organised crime - belied the fun-loving all-round good guy image he liked to project. For years there has been a conspiracy to cover-up what drove Sinatra to such behaviour. However, the sad truth behind Sinatra’s hell-raising can now be revealed - Ol’ Blue Eyes was actually Ol’ Little Dick. Even though friends of Sinatra have claimed that he had 'the biggest schlong I’ve ever seen', another former associate has claimed that Sinatra was actually hung like a cashew. Johnny Spagnotti, a close associate of Sinatra who has sometimes been referred to as the 'sixth member' of the infamous 'Rat Pack', claims: “It wasn’t until the early 1960s that Frankie began to get so hung up on the size of his pecker. Up ‘til then he’d had no complaints from the ladies and assumed that it was perfectly normal”.

The unhealthy obsession apparently started in 1960, during the wrap party after the shooting of Ocean’s Eleven was completed in Las Vegas. “There was a lot of booze, a lot of drugs and lot of hookers and a lot of guys getting naked with them. Suddenly this young broad points at Frank and calls him a needle dick before collapsing into hysterical laughter. Of course, all the other girls followed suit. Frank was furious”. So furious, in fact, that the hooker in question awoke one morning to find a severed donkey’s penis in her bed, along with a note from Sinatra’s mob associates reminding her that this was the true size of Ol’ Blue Eyes’ member as far as the public were concerned. According to Spagnotti, Sinatra’s connections with the mob helped fuel his penis paranoia. “He loved to hang out with these guys, who all had nicknames like Rocco 'The Cucumber' Spinola, 'Two Carrots' Jimmy Genero and Tommy 'Big Banana' Frezotti. I think it made him feel kind of inadequate”.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

No Debate

Apparently the BBC has received more than 3,000 messages complaining about the corporation's sacking of Carol Thatcher for making racist comments. I never realised that the BNP had that many members capable of writing. I really am sick of hearing morons trying to defend Thatcher. There really cannot be any debate over this - she referred to a black person as a 'golliwog'. This is offensive. No question. The weakest defence was that she made the remark in private. Frankly, this is bollocks. She said it in the 'green room' after the One Show in front of at least a dozen people, some of whom were journalists. I think we all know that, under such circumstances, if the BBC hadn't taken action, it would have found itself accused of condoning racism by those very same journalists criticising it for sacking Thatcher. The other 'defence offered is that the term 'golliwog' isn't racist and that the BBC is being too 'PC'. Again, bollocks. The reality is that the figure of the golliwog has a deeply racist history. The fact that, in a less sensitive era, it was also a beloved children's toy, is no excuse. We've moved on since then and we should all know better. The kind of people who complain about 'political correctness gone mad' are the sort who think it is OK to call black people 'darkies' and put bricks through their windows.

There are times when I suspect that there is a campaign going on in some areas of the media to make racism acceptable again. It isn't just this Carol Thatcher business, there was the whole furore over Prince Harry calling an Asian soldier a 'Paki'. The defences for this were ludicrous - it was just a bit of banter between friends (the target of the jibe was asleep and in no position to 'banter' back), or it was just part of 'barrack room culture' (apparently the army is exempt from race relations laws) - yet presented as serious arguments. Perhaps most idiotically, I've heard some people trying to defend the remark by claiming that 'Paki' is simply short for Pakistani, just as 'Brit' is short for British and therefore not racist. Again, arrant nonsense. 'Paki' has never, to my recollection , been used as a contraction of Pakistani - except by racist thugs prior to assaulting an Asian person in an unprovoked attack. As with the Thatcher case, the litmus test is to ask what would happen if you were to call an Asian colleague a 'Paki' or a black colleague a 'golliwog' in your workplace? The answer, of course, is that you'd probably be suspended pending a disciplinary hearing, which could well result in your dismissal. You could even face legal action under the Race Relations Act. Quite rightly, such offensive behaviour would not be tolerated. Why should be any different for Royalty or minor celebrities?

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Escape From Taliban

Another gem from my private DVD collection:

Unlike Hollywood, India’s Bollywood has never been afraid of taking the burning issues of the day and instantly turning them into colourful exploitation squarely aimed at the mass market. Following the the tradition of International Commandos - which depicted the fearless attempts of Islamic warriors to carry out the Fatwah against Salman Rushdie - this movie is an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza depicting the events surrounding the attack on the World Trade Centre and its aftermath. Opening like a Hugh Grant-style romantic comedy, a deceptively genial first half hour shows quiet Delhi University librarian Ghita Nennen being wooed by the apparently equally shy Kamal Kaifa, a mature student from Afghanistan studying at the University. However, following their spectacular wedding, the elaborate dance routines and jaunty love songs quickly give way to far grimmer scenes, as Kaifa whisks his bride away to his home in a remote Afghan mountain village, where his father is a prominent local Taliban official. He quickly reveals his darker side, growing a long straggly beard and forcing his spirited young wife to wear a burkah and adopt a position of subjugation, telling her that from now on her sole purpose will be to bear him at least ten children. Much domestic violence, always carefully choreographed as song and dance routines, follows. Nennen endures an especially brutal beating after she rebels and succeeds in persuading the local village women to cast aside their traditional Islamic dresses and indulge in frivolous activities such as dancing to decadent Western pop music. An elaborate dance sequence featuring the women - now clad in tight-fitting low-cut dresses gyrating around the village to strains of Kylie Minogue, teasing their outraged men-folk by tugging their beards and performing provocative dance routines in front of them, ends abruptly with Kaifa dragging Nennen away to be administered a brutal beating by him and his brothers - once again carefully choreographed and set to music - whilst she sings mournfully about the pain she is enduring! However, she is luckier than some of the other women, who are burned alive as punishment - young children dancing gaily around their pyres whilst chuckling Taliban men roast meat in the flames.

In between the beatings, Nennen learns that the mysterious bearded figure attending secret midnight meetings in her house is none other than Osama bin Laden, who has his headquarters in some nearby caves, and that her husband and his family are in league with the Al Qaida terrorist group. Forced to wait on the men whilst they plot, she overhears the details of the September 11 plot, and realise she must try and stop it. In a bizarre development, Nennen uses a hawk she has been secretly training to fly to Delhi with a message to her brothers (all of whom are, conveniently, Indian Special Forces commandos). Consequently, the film descends into a welter of action sequences, as her machine gun-toting heavily moustachioed brothers parachute into the village to rescue her, mowing down every Taliban man who stands in their way. Nonetheless, despite blowing up half the village (to the accompaniment of several songs), they fail to stop Kaifa, belatedly realising he has been betrayed, from whisking their sister away to the US, where he is to participate in the hijacking of one of the airliners destined to crash into the Twin Towers! In a series of increasingly unlikely developments a drugged Nennen finds herself aboard an American Airlines jet as it is taken over by a group of singing and dancing terrorists led by her husband, but incredibly escapes! Ironically, she is dismissed as “an hysterical jabbering towel-head” by the US policemen she tries to alert to the plot. Inevitably, the planes hit their targets - we last see a grinning Kaifa singing about the nobility of self-sacrifice as he sits at the controls of his plane - and Nennan is left devastated by her failure. In a somewhat downbeat post-script, we see her return to the mountain village and gain entry to bin Laden’s HQ by seducing the bearded master terrorist. As Osama reaches his climax, we see Nennen activate a radio homing device she has secreted about her person, and US B-52s rain bombs down upon the cave complex, burying them both as she sings the same song about self-sacrifice as her husband had earlier!


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Last Honda Civic out of Saigon...

I was hoping not to have to talk about the snow again, but this current bout of cold weather just isn't getting the message - we've all had quite enough of you, now fuck off. An increasingly irritating aspect of it is the way in which the media contrive to try and make a spell of poor weather into a national crisis. They're aided and abetted in this by the police, councils and public transport providers, all of whom fuel the fear by cancelling services, closing roads and schools and telling motorists not to travel unless it is 'absolutely necessary'. Who decides what is an 'absolutely necessary' journey? The people who hand out such advice certainly aren't giving us any clues. I particularly hate the way in which the media perpetuate the big lie that, outside of a few main routes, every road is impassable. I live in one the areas supposedly worst hit by this weather yet, today, I was able to drive extensively around both main roads, side roads and back roads, through remote villages and hamlets. However, according to my local TV news, the day had been characterised by 'travel chaos' in my area.

Perhaps the most ludicrous report I've seen on TV in the past few days involved the pompous local BBC transport correspondent 'on location' telling us that every road in a neighbouring county was now blocked by snow and/or crashed and abandoned vehicles. Towns were completely cut off and the county was in the grip of panic. "Stay in your homes, don't try to drive anywhere tonight," the buffoon helpfully told everyone. Because, presumably, you'd be attacked by the abominable snowman, or packs of wolves, if you did try to travel by road. "I was in the last car to get safely over Pepperbox Hill," he added, before describing the scenes of horror on the hill. "The road was lined with abandoned cars and lorries which just couldn't make it." I suppose that this was the local TV equivalent of being in the last chopper out of Saigon. After all that, I was amazed not to see reports the next day of the panic stricken citizens of these 'cut off' towns eating each other as the food supplies dwindled. But seriously, this sort of thing really doesn't help/ We aren't in the middle of a crisis - it's just some bad weather. Get a bloody grip!

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Snow Go...

If there is one type of meteorological phenomena I detest, it is snow. I hate the way the entire country seems to become paralysed as soon as a single flake falls. I hate the way it outstays its welcome, and lingers, dirty and grey, for days on end, making a nuisance of itself. Most of all, I hate the way too many people use it as an excuse to skive off of work. Speaking as someone who has struggled in to work for the past couple of days of the present snow fall, I really have little sympathy for those who couldn't be bothered to even try. OK, so I know that this Winter's snowfall has been the heaviest for nearly two decades and there might be some people living in really remote areas who might just be genuinely cut off, but for the vast majority, there really is no excuse. Just because the snow is deeper than usual doesn't mean you can't walk, or even drive, through it. Yes, I know that a lot of public transport didn't run, making some journeys near impossible, but, again, this is something that I find unforgivable. Given that the operators of such services had the same warning as the rest of us that this weather was on the way, it is absolutely unforgivable that they were apparently so unprepared they were unable to run trains and buses.

The scale of absenteeism yesterday was staggering - the roads were empty (although quite safe to drive on) and my local town centre deserted. I know I'm sounding like a kill-joy, but I really don't think bad weather should be taken as an excuse for a day off. Whilst the public transport situation wasn't helping, too many people didn't even seem to try getting in to work - they just gave up at the first obstacle and went home. Strangely, something similar seemed to happen again today, despite most public transport being restored and there being less snow on the roads. Funny that. For those of us who are bothering to go to work, this is pretty annoying, to put it mildly. There really is no excuse anymore. Although, of course, that doesn't stop people from making them - it's too slippery to drive, the schools have closed and I have to stay at home with the kids, etc. Well, tough. Learn to drive properly - it really isn't that difficult to drive in snowy conditions if you keep your speed down. Get child care - don't make your decision to inflict your offspring on the world my problem. See, these alleged problems are easily solved! Basically, just get back to bloody work! Don't you people have any personal pride? I do - I'm damned if I'll be dictated to by anyone or anything with regard to my daily activities - not even the weather! OK, rant over - for now. However, if tomorrow turns out to be a third day in a row of the skivers using the snow as an excuse to stay at home, I'm likely to get very pissed off!


Monday, February 02, 2009

Master and Slave?

Mismatched detectives - they're a staple of TV. If you are making any kind of crime series then, if it is to have any chance of success, it has to include a pair of detectives who have conflicting characteristics. They could be at odds psychologically - one's a slob, the other's got obsessive compulsive disorder, for instance - or they could be physically different - a skinny one and a fat bastard, maybe . Sometimes the dividing line is based on gender: male and female; or sexuality: a straight cop partners a gay cop; or it could be based on race: black cop, white cop being the most obvious combination. All of these combinations, and variations n them, have been tried in TV series over the years, but I think that there's one they've missed: master and slave. No, I'm not talking about an S&M based mystery series, in which a femdom and her 'slave' (a retired Scotland Yard detective), investigate a series of bizarre bondage-based murders. Although,come to think of it, that actually would be a pretty innovative series. I'm thinking more along the lines of an historically based series in which a foppish white minor nobleman and his black slave investigate murders.

Obviously, the white guy would be a bit of a dimwit, whereas the slave would be a Sherlock Holmes-type genius frustrated by the fact that the existing social order doesn't allow him to allow him to use his powers openly. Instead, he has to work covertly, relying upon his master to get access to high society. Most frustratingly of all, is that he always has to let his master take the credit for his successes. I'm convinced this could be a success - it has everything; the historical setting, the antagonistic relationship between the lead characters, plus the whole race/slavery debate as a subtext. Best of all, it pretty much casts itself: Julian Rhind-Tutt as the master and Paterson Joseph as the slave if you want to go for mainstream BBC 1 slot. Failing that, you could always just reunite the Casanova pairing of David Tennant and Shaun Parkes and pitch it to BBC 3. Genius! Of course, if you wanted to try and get it on ITV you'd have to have Ray Winstone as the master and some guy who'd been in a soap opera as the slave. Now, where did I put that phone number for the BBC's Commissioning Editor...?