Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page

The Royal Wedding as reported by The Daily Mail

In Satire on April 29, 2011 at 6:41 PM

This article was commissioned as a report on the Royal Wedding by the Daily Mail. Alas, it was rejected for ‘too rigidly adhering to our usual standards of impartiality at the expense of adequately conveying the necessary passion and patriotism inherently involved in such a momentous occassion’.

‘The crowds had, understandably, been queuing up since Wednesday morning to catch a glimpse of our two glorious newlyweds, who will shine a beacon of prosperity, dignity and nobility to the rest of the world, so desperately in need of a guiding light. As the sun broke over the Thames Estuary on the morning of this momentous occasion, for miles-upon-miles, crowds lined our fine city of London, exhibiting their patriotism and allegiance to the great institution that our monarchy undoubtedly is.

The towering, beautifully regal Westminster Abbey, of course present in so much of our fine country’s history, was again the host for this historic union of kindred spirits. The 1900 guests of the ceremony gradually convened in the great cathedral from around half eight.  In attendance were of course current royals, relevant clergy, the Choir of Westminster Abbey and friends and family of the couple, some of whom have now since had the rare privilege of casting aside their hitherto commoner status to become royals.

David and Victoria Beckham, who have increasingly become accepted as quasi-royals, appeared at 9:30. David looked as handsome as ever with classic, coiffured slicked-black hair and Victoria as stunning as ever in a frilly, navy blue number with matching hat that, at that angle, dazzlingly defied all laws of gravity in sticking to her head. Thankfully, as upstanding as the Beckhams now are, Clive Woodward and his lovely wife were also in attendance, so rugby; a sport played by gentlemen, not moaning, adulterous thugs that proliferate our supposedly beautiful game, could be represented.

Elton John and his special friend (or whatever we’re supposed to call them now) David Furnish had obviously somehow sneaked in through the…umm… back door. There were also several assorted dignitaries from the Commonwealth such as King Mswati III – last absolute monarch of the world who criminally lived in polygamous luxury while his people starved. The dignitaries were presumably in attendance to copy our winning monarchical formula and as a sign of gratitude for the immeasurably positive role played by Britain in the social and economic development of their respective… places’ development. Well, I suppose now it is fair to call them nations, largely due to our help. But even the presence of a few… undesirables, shall we say, could not spoil this event. We can only hope that they learn from our shining example. Oh well, I am sure Prince Phillip will have some words of wisdom for them, admirably unbowed as he is by these Nazis screaming for political correctness at mere utterance of anything resembling independent thought.

Our fine leader David Cameron, with wife Sarah in a gorgeous green number, joined glorified PA Nick Clegg, George Osborne and wives at ten past ten. Considering their deplorable (and thankfully, futile) efforts to disassemble the monarchy, there was thankfully no invitations for Messrs. Blair and Brown.

Shortly after, William and Harry arrived at the Abbey. Respectively, both looking resplendent in a bright red and black, embroidered military uniform. The outfits illustrate the princes’ admirable commitment to the military and hopefully will go some way to restoring public faith in the brave, brave, ill-treated soldiers.

As Prince Phillip and the Queen entered the Abbey at 10:50, Kate Middleton left the luxury Goring Hotel. Kate’s equally elegant sister Pippa arrives at 10:57, wearing a splendid, long, Alexander McQueen cream dress with cowl neck, and proceeds to walk down the aisle hand-in-hand with Prince Harry. A definite chemistry was in the air between the two young beauties…another burgeoning Prince/Middleton romance, perhaps?! Time shall tell.

Finally, at 11:03, the moment a nation has awaited with baited breath for hours, nay weeks, nay years, arrived; the unveiling of Kate’s dress! And, I’ll tell you what, it didn’t disappoint! She glided out of the car upon her father’s arm, wearing a show-stopping Alexander McQueen dress with glorious veil and tiara, long full skirt, fitted bodice with long French Chantilly lace sleeves and spectacular 2.7m bridal train. The maker Sarah Burton was almost in tears of happiness at what a wondrous sight Kate had made her dress.  After acknowledging her adoring public, she walked down the aisle with her father Michael Middleton. What a proud moment it much has been for him to give away his daughter into the wonderful royal family, having himself risen up the hierarchy from the grim, sordid, squalor of working-class life.

At around 11:10, Kate arrived at the altar and lifted her veil, to which William lovingly mouthed “you look beautiful”. The Dean of Westminster started the ceremony and introduced the Kate and Will’s moving wedding vows. Catherine then took Prince Will’s hand in hers and recited after the Archbishop the timelessly beautiful declaration: “I, Catherine Elizabeth, take thee, William Arthur Phillip Louis, to my wedded husband,….”. The Archbishop then blessed the ring, which had been fashioned by a Llandudno jewellers from a piece of Gold given by the Queen. Then after William had placed the ring on Catherine’s finger, the couple kneeled to be blessed by the Archbishop and have it pronounced that “they be man and wife”.

There then followed several magical readings, prayers and songs. One can hope that such an awe-inspiring service will restore the place of the Church and its moral values in British society, which is tragically being corrupted by a series of horrible vices such as pre-marital sex, drinking, gambling and general decadent depravity.

At 12:15, the glorious newlyweds got in the carriage which idled past the adoring crowds to Buckingham Palace for the iconic ‘balcony kiss’. An hour or so later, Will and Kate appear through the balcony, smiles on their faces as wide as the vista of adoring masses sprawled out beneath them. to a cacophony of awe and wonder. Heralded by the spectacular flight of the aircraft above them, Catherine and William then kissed, not once but twice – images that will go down in history.

My parting thoughts on this day of days are that I hope it inspires the many leeches on our otherwise great society to take inspiration from these two fine examples of monarchy to get off their backsides and make something of their currently pitiful lives, instead of scrounging off the goodwill of the rest of us! (Ed: You do realise don’t you, that the royals cost the British taxpayer around £40 million a year and the wedding is estimated to have cost half that…?!)

A. Royalist ’

Joel Durston

Freedom of Emission

In Opinion on April 12, 2011 at 4:09 PM

Browsing through my Facebook newsfeed the other day, as you do, I chanced upon a hilarious link sent by a friend to another titled: ‘Malawians outraged at the new farting bill’. I couldn’t not investigate….

It transpired that the article and news clip were about a new Local Courts Bill in the Malawi’s financial capital Blantyre, which legislated that: “Any person who vitiates the atmosphere in any place so as to make it noxious to the public, to the health of persons in general dwelling or carrying on business in the neighbourhood or passing along a public way, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.” The bill will also attempt to deal with citizens who hinder the burial of dead bodies, as well as people who pretend to be fortune tellers.

The locals were rightly outraged at the new bill. They cited both the political reasons, such as the corrupt government wrongly focusing on trivial matters like public flatulence, rather than more pressing matters, such as child immortality, violence and illiteracy. And the practical reasons, such as the difficulty in tracing the culprit. College student Matthews Phiri claimed: “We all fart in public and it will be difficult to tell who has done it. Some do it silently. In some cases it is like teargas which goes like shhhh! Our legislators need to concentrate on discussing development projects. They should not waste our time and money on childish issues. It would make sense if they talked about defecating and urinating anyhow but not farting. This will not work. We will keep on farting.” Good for you, Matthews; keep up the gassy resistance, I say! It’s enough to make one think that ‘freedom of emission’ should join ‘freedom of expression’ in that hallmark of Western moral liberalism; the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

As funny as this new motion undoubtedly is, it highlights a more serious, age-old political trend…and a rather worrying one it is too. Namely, the penchant for governments to, if you will, sweep all their problems under the carpet, masked by various perfidious ploys; in this case, perverse legislation totally unrelated to other efforts. It happens all the time at the Olympics and other such sporting tournament. The spectacular ‘Bird’s nest’ arena that admittedly played such a wonderful host to the 2008 Beijing Olympics was the product of what was in aspects a very tough construction effort, with very poor working conditions and pay, forcible reinforcement and even related deaths (The Times reported ten, whilst Reuters, in a rather suspicious-sounding  ‘association’ with the Chinese government, claimed two).

But the prime example, of course, has to be the, quite frankly, madhouse that is North Korea. To quell concerns about (especially rural) poverty and political violence, to name but a few, Junior and Senior Kim Jong-Il have created the myths that North Korea is the best country in the world, fighting off the dominant evil forces of the rest of the world; that they are fittingly godly leaders with powers similar to that of the Judaeo-Christian God. My personal favourite myth is that Junior Kim was conceived and delivered immaculately by his mother from whose ‘birthing passage he strode out magnificently, already aware of his own brilliance.

During the last World Cup there was a hilarious blogger’s mock report of North Korea’s 50-0 victory over Brazil, just google ‘North Korea beat brazil 50-0’. It describes Kim Jong-Il’s incredible performance as he scored 49 goals almost single-handedly in the first half then, just to make matters fair, subbed everyone else off, put himself in goal and invited Brazil’s all time greats to come on. Needless to say, the great Kim kept a clean sheet for 45 minutes before scoring a heaven sent 50th goal. The game had to be stopped because no-one could stop the tears of admiration stemming from everyone in the stadium. On first reading of this, I laughed…a lot. Then, after a little research, I got the impression that this article was in fact probably pretty similar to the kind of shit that North Koreans are mercilessly fed on a daily basis and thus felt rather bad for using my freedom of expression to laugh at those who are tragically without this Western world luxury. Indeed, it is suspected that the North Korean government edited the footage of their team’s efforts in the World Cup such that they were presented as the winners of the thing!

This is far from the only time football has been used as a propaganda tool. During the 1978 World Cup, dictator of Argentina Jorge Rafael Videla is believed to have threatened violence, even death, to ‘his’ players had they not won the coveted Jules Rimet trophy in their own back yard. Thankfully for the players’ sakes, they did, but only after allegations of intimidation of opposition and suspicious results and decisions, including a very doubtful 6-0 win against Peru in their final group game which edged Argentina through by virtue of goal difference (Peru were decidedly under-par and several decisions went Argentina’s way which probably shouldn’t have).

And at the previous World Cup in ‘74, the dictator of Zaire (as it was then), worried of national embarrassment and consequent unrest and upheaval, threatened the national team with execution should they concede more than ten goals.  This is the team infamous for the hilarious scenes of players continually running out of the wall prematurely to disrupt the Brazilians taking of a free-kick (do yourself a favour and Youtube it). These are scenes that caused me to mock and look down at the Zaire players as disobedient, even stupid, until I learnt of their horrific plight (this was the 70-somethingth minute and they had conceded 9 goals in the tournament), thereafter seeing them as heroic members of the political resistance, running out of that wall to hoof the ball up the pitch as if, well, because, their lives depended upon it. You will be pleased to know they survived. I’m surprised there hasn’t been a film adaptation including Denzel as the inspirational talisman, Cuba Gooding Junior as the willing debutante and Morgan Freeman; the wise, world-weary manager. The Oscars would practically be in the bag.

Anyway, back to my original point; in whatever combination of sheer ignorance, or blatant indifference, of ‘their’ citizens’ conditions, governments have done and continue to do shocking things to cover domestic problems. That’s hardly a revelatory piece of political analysis I realise, but hear me out if you will. What worries me about this is that it means that all the respective Western government’s admirable statements of intent, be they genuine or not, to increase aid to developing countries could prove ultimately pretty futile. Comic Relief and other such charities present a ‘Disney-fied’ account of the developing world, whereby it is nigh-on guaranteed that x amount of pence will pay for Mary’s education for a month and x amount of pounds will pay for Lulu to drink clean water for at least a year. Now don’t get me wrong, I have a huge amount of admiration for such charities, I try to give and think they are right to portray charity and the developing world in such a way; I’m just not entirely sure it’s a particularly accurate representation.

Obviously it is in neither the respective LEDCs governments’ nor the charities’ interests to say so, but it is always alleged (quietly) that developing countries’ governments cream off so much of the aid money in spurious taxes that that charities (or MEDCs’ governments’) efforts are rendered unproductive. The same could be said of the money for or from sporting events. Such financial aid is arguably counter-productive if the money is used to prop up corrupt officials and businessmen, whilst maintaining the image of the poor country, that just needs to be ‘helped to help itself’.

While I don’t deny this is a noble mantra for helping countless specific communities, I do wonder how easy it is to get into such communities due to government interference. For example, I remember watching a show maybe a year ago where the presenter, as far as possible, travelled across the world along the titular line. He very bravely ventured into Burma, whereupon just over the border he encountered a tiny destitute community, many of whom were in very poor health. Not only were the government and the militia doing nothing to help this community, they were actively preventing a small group of Christian health workers from getting to this community, and no doubt countless similar ones too, when the only possible agenda they had was to gently preach the message of a 2,000-year-old Jew. The presenter and cameramen soon got the hell outta there!

In many countries, I get the impression that senior politicians who want to keep hold of their leadership are in cahoots with the police or militia, who want a subordinate populace, who in turn are in league with heads of business who want to retain a huge sub-strata of society, willing to work for next to nothing. And these businessmen conspire with the politicians in the whole murky network where ‘power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’.

So, in addition to rueing the injustices of imperialism (especially throughout history) and Western apathy, I feel a lot of the blame for wealth differences lies with those at the top of the hierarchy, too self-interested to see or do anything about the strife on their doorstep.  In his new book The Chosen One, Sam Bourne writes: ‘politics would always rise up and strangle hope, like a weed choking a flower’….

So as I draw to a close, and seek to unite my many digressions, for which I am sorry, I start to hope that the above is the misguided ramblings of a cynic; that the world isn’t rife with unremitting corruption and pain. Or that this state of affairs doesn’t harness its power to entrench and self-perpetuate itself. Otherwise it may well be an accurate and depressing reflection of the world’s geo-political state; as we fail to disinfect the stagnant injustice that continues well into the 21st century.

Joel Durston

Jamie Dream’s Hospital

In Culture on April 2, 2011 at 9:59 PM

As the show starts, the nation’s favourite, and, indeed, only, Naked Chef laments to the camera while driving: “the whole country, well at least those who ‘ent got private healthcare, are annoyed about the way healthcare is run in this country. Good, hard-working people all over Britain are being failed by our shoddy NHS. So, I’ve called in some favours from experts in their fields who I know to try ‘n’ sort this mess out. With the ‘elp of these people I’ve set up a ‘Jamie’s Dream Hospital’. We’ve taken over an old hospital and we’re gonna get in 20 subjects; people with different health issues, whether it’s their body or the things going on in their noggin, who have been failed by the NHS and we’re see if these experts can help them out”.

The first subject we meet is Tammie; a 19-year-old woman who has clearly modelled her look on the characterless, conventional attractiveness of automatons such as Barbie and Paris Hilton, but, due to her anoxeria (and consequent drug abuse), has come out looking more like an addled Lindsay Lohan after a particularly heavy weekend. We then meet Sonya; an 18 year old Vicky Pollard-lookalike who “has got natural big bones ennit”. And no it doesn’t stop there: “AND I is addicted to choclit.*Interviewer presumably meets this assertion with scepticism* “Nah I’m telling you; iz a proper medical condition and the bloody politicians is paying for all these druggies and alhololics (sic) to get recovered with MY taxis (sic – I dare not bother to do this for all mistakes) but not for me. That’s why I’ve come here; to get recovered by James-zy Olivers Dream ‘ospital”.

Jamie Oliver decides to put these two women/girls (‘women’ by age, ‘girls’ by maturity) into a counselling session, despite having completely different (even oppositional) eating disorders. It’s decided that this session is to be conducted by David Starkey on the rather spurious grounds that because both of the girls’ families have a family history of eating disorders, he should take it “’cos he’s good at ‘istory and that kinda stuff”. The session starts with the girls very bravely baring their souls to the nation by explaining about their weight issues and the reasons behind them. With the girls on the brink of tears, Starkey insensitively quips: “well, it seems to me these problems could be sorted by the enforced removal of some of Miss Piggy here’s flab to you, ol’ Flamingo legs”. He then continued to guffaw, very satisfied at his joke which he himself had obviously deemed hilarious. The two girls, however, hadn’t, as they started effing and blinding , calling Starkey “fuckin’ disrespectful” and such like. Starkey proceeded to claim that the two new girls were never going to get anywhere if they didn’t attempt to tackle the subject head on by admitting their obvious ‘problems’ and listening to him “such that (they could) deal with them”. The two girls then walked out of the session.

After the advertisement break, we are met again by Jamie who admits that that “encounter didn’t get off to the best of starts” but that, in his supreme optimism/arrogance he is sure that “it was just a misunderstanding and they could patch things up and get those girls better” as if their eating disorders were mere dirt on their shoulders which could be easily brushed off.

He then leads us on to a brighter note: “a lot of operating theatres these days are depressing places and not like theatres at all. We have a good old fashioned operating theatre at our Dream Hospital, so, I thought we would get star of the stage, me ol’ mucka Brian Blessed, to try and put the ‘theatre’ back in ‘operating theatre”. And so it was that we were faced with the bizzare spectacle of an actor with no medical, let alone surgical, training, operating upon Chris with his fractured left zygomatic arch (cheekbone to me and you…. and Brian), supervised by a proper surgeon, but still. The camera panned round the assembled audience of Dream Hospital ‘subjects’ (or at least those healthy enough to attend), who variously offered “WOOOPS” and “GO ON BRIAN/MATE/FATTIE”s , with no mention of whether Mike has given the other patients in Dream Hospital permission to be there. Brian Blessed starts the surgery by offering a booming “HELLLLLOOOOO EVERYBODY” then takes it upon himself to add some drama to the procedure by detailing Chris’ backstory in his the stunting, shouting, up and down, ultra-dramatic manner that he has made his trademark on and off stage. “POOR OLD CHRIS HERE had his FAACCEEE knocked about by some RUFFIANS after couRAGEousLY diving for a ball in a full blooded game of RUGGER. Those blundering busybodies at the NHS haven’t given him treatment in TWO FULL MOONS…OUTRAGEOUS. So I am here to use the power of the theatre to aid COURAGEOUS CHRIS’ RECOVERY!”. Then, with an assumptive arrogance which probably tops even Jamie Oliver’s he bellows: “I may not have done this EX..ACT…LY before BUT I have played a surgeon AND I can play a mean little tune on the ol’ ebonies and ivories so LET’S HOPE THAT DEXTERITY WORKS IN THIS THEATRE”, which is met with a hearty guffaw. The anaesthetist then comes up in to “send Chris away to where fantasies do lay”, after which Brian brandishes a surgical knife and shouts “EN GARDE” whilst feigning a fencing move. Sitting down at the chair, he fiddles with the knife in the manner a bored school pupil would with his pen and exclaims “where to incise on this EVER-SO handsome VISAGE?!”. The ‘real doc’ then points to the place and Brian proceeds to cut into the visage with comparative careless abandon and several exhortations of “CORR, BLIMEY” as he discovers previously unseen recesses of the face. The supervisor eventually gets Brian exhibiting more care with the knife and amazingly the operation is successful and ‘courageous Chris’ is brought back from the land of fantasies to reality (‘reality’?) as Brian declares “ARISE, GOOD SIR!”. The crowd then cheer and applaud (on cue) and two lads respectively shout: “nice one, mate” and “BACK OF THE NET, Brian”! Conveniently, the producers deem this a suitable time to cut to the ad break.

On the return for the ad break, Jamie is quick to herald the operation a “massive success” which they “must build on”. In a shocking display of insensitivity, not to mention wanton disregard for the woman’s wishes, Simon Callow is sent to raise the self-esteem of shy Tanya – a woman who has been the subject of domestic abuse – through the medium of drama, so that she can “stand up for herself”. He tries a variety of shouting exercises to get up her to open up, but to no avail. After the session Simon complains that he “just can’t get through to the woman…don’t know what’s up with her”.

Despite two abject failures of the three featured sessions, Jamie remains sanguine about the whole project: “ that didn’t go quite to plan, but I’m sure we can break through to these people and sort them out”. Cherie Blair/Booth Q.C. is assigned to counsel a person with multiple personality disorder, “misunderstood by ****in’ NHS” on the rather dubious, even offensive, grounds of “dealing with two people arguing day-to-day”. The ‘subject’, Kwame, claims that his normal alter is a calm, relaxed, ‘sane’, person but his other, oppositional alter is a dangerous, destructive force which drives him to drink, drugs and violence. Cherie, rather misjudging the atmosphere, even workplace, goes in bluntly by demanding “what is the case to be heard here?!”. The session then carries for about 20 minutes without major hitch, though Kwame has an almost constant expression of bemusement painted on his face as Cherie speaks in verbose, largely irrelevant legalese. This is until Cherie says “obviously legal representation for you people is harder to come by…” and Kwame retorts “what do you mean ‘you people’?!” Cherie replies, completely straight-faced: “well, ‘bananas’ of course”, to which Kwame replies “you ****ing dirty, racist whore…you just ****ed your way to the top anyway” and storms off.

Kwame storms across the car park and bursts into the lounge area where all the ‘subjects’ await their fates: “THIS IS BULLSHIT, MAN. THAT LAWYER WOMAN WAS RACIST. THE WHOLE THING IS SHIT. WORSER THAN THE ****IN’ NHS. I AM OUT OF HERE! WHO’S WITH ME?!”. A good another ten of them mutter their agreement and walk out in support of Kwame, to the chagrin of an exasperated Jamie Oliver calling after them, desperately shouting that he was “sure it was just a misunderstanding” and that “they can talk it over”. Even after this debacle, Jamie Oliver remains relatively upbeat about the whole project: “well, it hasn’t all worked out brilliantly, but I think we have shown how hard it is for doctors, nurses and everyone else in the NHS and I think we have given some of these kids a little bit of hope and suggested some really positive changes that I hope my chum David Cameron can act upon…”. This viewer for one hopes David Cameron doesn’t act upon these ideas….

Joel Durston