Dieu merci

May 7th, 2017

Now Monsieur le Président may I humbly suggest that you devote considerable resources to ridding your beautiful country of its apparently large population of Nazis. With best wishes.

New house

May 3rd, 2017

I’d love to hear more about your new house, more than you told me yesterday and the day before and last week too. Yes, it is so wonderful that your old house sold so quickly and yes, I can quite understand how that young couple simply adore it and want to move in as quickly as possible. Isn’t it just fab that you will be neighbours with that minor-celebrity-that nobody-has-heard-of-but-appears-regularly-on-Radio-Four. I had no idea that your new house is fully wired for ‘twenty first century broadband’. Equally I have no idea what ‘twenty first century broadband’ is and neither do you. One thing I enjoy even more than hearing about your new house is your trip to New York. Yes, it does bear repeated tellings and no, the stories of your expensive shopping trips don’t get any less fascinating with each of the twenty iterations to date. How absolutely splendid that you found just the right original artwork for your ‘very successful geologist’ son in that quirky exclusive gallery you can’t pronounce properly. Your smirks of pleasure as you tell us again about your expensive holidays make our lives that little more complete. Thankyou and go to hell.

Perky tweet

April 30th, 2017

You caught me by surprise. Your perky tweet hopped into my timeline with an enticing link to your YouTube review.
There you were looking all smiley in your tasteful front room being all perky and gushy. A wave of pleasure began to spread over me as you launched into some glowing praise. [Sincere head tilt] Great build up as you set the scene perkily and engagingly. I took the time to admire your Dyson fan thingy tastefully product-placed in the background. You can afford a Dyson fan and you are only twenty something with a baby and a house. Ooh. So then you stuck the knife in. [Earnest face to camera] Eighteen months of my work dismissed in a few perky seconds. You had no idea. You probably still have no idea. It was clear, on reflection, that you are ignorant. Despite what it says on your YouTube bio. And your Twitter bio. And your linkedin bio and all the other bios you’ve plastered all over the place on your Self Promotional Journey. You’re on the up and your YourTube is a sign of what is to come; watch out world! Yes, I did notice that you retweeted your review five times in the hope that I’d amplify your latest bid for Webfame. I’m waiting for the next level of passive aggression to get my attention. Will it be an email I wonder or a DM? I can imagine a DM would be your thing – more of the moment. I’ve never been summarily Vknifed before. It hurt a lot, really. But you had no idea.

Thanks for coming

Roaches

April 29th, 2017

That urban myth about cockroaches. You know the one about them being the only living thing to survive a nuclear war. The belief that their immense tenacity and success in colonising the most inhospitable habitats renders them indestructible. Their sheer staying power and irremovability no matter what you throw at them. The seeming fact they just won’t fuck off.

Schools crisis – what schools crisis?

April 26th, 2017

This is the lead item on BBC News Education just now. It’s a report about the ex Headmaster of Eton suggesting that private schools should offer free flights as a ‘thankyou’ to parents. This, presumably, is the most important education story in the United Kingdom right now in the view of the BBC.
Meanwhile The Independent details the report of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee which is heavily critical of Government spending priorities that it cites as wasteful, poor value for taxpayers money and ‘incoherent’. Amongst numerous examples of a severe funding crisis in state education it documents that: 85 per cent of schools are known to have asbestos in their buildings, there will be a 6.5% real-terms cut in spending per pupil between 2015-16 and 2019–20. The report paints a damning picture of huge disparities in funding between un-needed free schools which duplicate existing provision and local authority schools which are being starved of resources.

Strangely, this scathing Parliamentary report features nowhere on the BBC Education page.
Obviously the ‘free flights for private schools kickback’ story is more important.

Sacre bleu

April 24th, 2017

Who knew there were so many fascists en France? Or in most western ‘democracies’ it would seem. Clearly we have failed to educate large swathes of the post WW2 generation. Why else would the Nazi playbook of demonising minorities, nationalism and lies-as-truth still be working 70 years after the biggest disaster in history? More worryingly where are the voices of wisdom from charismatic leaders rebutting all this rubbish?

Headhunted

April 21st, 2017

Y E S, it was AMA A A AZING. He was headhunted out of the blue. Fantastic salary, travel and car.”

Thanks for coming

KMN

April 18th, 2017

“Yes, we’re AWAY so can’t make it. We’ll be in MuphistoMooMooLand that day by the harbour. Hopefully sipping a cocktail or too. Ha ha ha! Hope it goes well though.”

Thanks for coming

Faint praise

April 17th, 2017

We had a pleasant time. It was well worth the effort. Very nice. Such a brave thing to do. Very interesting. So glad we came.

Thanks for coming

Building the Smug

April 9th, 2017

It all started quite promisingly with ‘Grand Designs’. An occasional fix of outlandish property porn fronted by the urbane Kevin; surely one of the twenty first century’s most influential figures when it comes to design. A whole generation now aspire to underfloor heating and sheep’s wool loft insulation thanks to our Kev.

Kevin ain’t getting any younger though. His boyish locks, luxuriant in the early shows, have gradually greyed and shrunk. As his bank balance has increased, his teeth have gotten more perfect and his casual jackets more designery. He’s become more shiny, self-assured and, I believe, a tad complacent in that “I’m at the top of my game” way which eventually affects the Star Host. [ Cf Ross, Wogan, Titchmarsh etc, etc yawn ]. Kevin may now, at least partly, believe his own publicity and it is the programme commissioners who are to blame.

There is a whole generation of TV People who, it would seem, have all done the “How to Build on Success” module as part of their Media Studies degree. The secret to building the ratings is basically ‘more of the same’. If that slick quiz with the dramatic lighting effects and pulsing synthesiser soundtrack pulls in the punters primetime, make another version! [ Only much cheaper and shove it on every day at teatime when you’ve got a captive audience of overstimulated schoolkids and semi-comatose pensioners ]. “That Antiques Roadshow has been doing well for fifty years. I know, let’s make a cheaper version for the unwashed masses. They can flog all the old tat they would’ve taken to the boot sale and we can get that nice Scottish lady that everyone loves to coo over everything.” “That Simon Cowell is on to something, let’s make a talent show with a twist! How about punk pensioners / garage grandads or hip hop hooray henrys? We need to workshop this in the thought pod on the sixth floor – bring your ipad Tristan.”

Gradually, the clone TV sausage machine has filled the schedules with different versions of the same thing. The presenters change, the music is tweaked, the budget heads ever southwards but it’s basically the same idea.

So now it’s not just Kevin. It’s Caroline and Piers swanning around the globe in search of ever more iconic houses. “Yes, we’ve found a mountaintop mansion made from marble helicoptered in during a snowstorm!” It’s George – ( he’s an ‘Arkytec’ you know ) – he sheds a tear as you re-tell the story of your war wound / emotional loss / chronic constipation that lead you to buy this pile of rubble and mortgage your spleen to do it up. How about Grand Designs in half an hour? We can get that scouse bird off Brookside to pritt stick the B&Q wallpaper onto the ensuite during the commercials. Film it fast and no-one will see it fall off when we get the hell out by teatime. And so it goes on, more property shows. Always ‘Will they do it in time?’, ‘The doubtful host’, ‘The Reveal’, ‘How much is it worth’? Zzzzzzz.

Kevin may be on the downslope. He’s no doubt, paying an army of pre-Brexit Eurobuilders to construct his porcelain retirement complex on a sunny hillside somewhere. He may have peaked. That mansion made of mud a few series back was big enough to be seen from space without magnification. Grand Designs has spawned many many progeny.

Least attractive of these is “Building the Dream”. A half-baked concept about half-baked houses. The owners pretend that they haven’t already ordered the avocado shower tray and Diamonique pedal bin. They call in ‘Architectural Designer’ Charlie to ‘advise’ on how to make their dream home even more dreamy. Charlie rocks up wearing an anorak and looking smug. They all sit round the table in their caravan (they spent the entire ice age there you know) and Charlie doodles a few ideas on their expensive CAD drawings with his Pentel. The rest of the show is a gradual revelation that they’ve ignored everything Charlie suggested and stayed true to their original snot green vision. Charlie returns, even smugger than before and pretends not to be bothered. He does a little Kevin-style homily at the end (though never as sanctimoniously as RevKev) and then walks off to collect his fee and do a closing smugshot. Meanwhile the owners fester in their mucous mansion looking equally smug. Everybody’s happy and the viewers hit ebay for bargain bogey shower trays.