Monday, December 08, 2014 

Satire: it's a little too ironic.

Is it ironic those who complain about the lack of satire often give the impression they've never told a joke in their lives? Perhaps, perhaps not.  It's difficult to know when irony smothers everything with such a thick layer of, err, irony, which is a bit like goldy and bronzey.  Or is it?

Owen Jones does it must be said have something resembling a point, almost obscured as per by sanctimony.  Few people like being laughed at, opposed to with.  When Nigel Farage took up Andrew Lawrence's complaint about UKIP having become an easy target for the pound shop comics and "ethnics" of Mock the Week, he transmogrified himself with the party's voters, as though laughing at him was to belittle Mr and Mrs Average UKIPer also.  Since then it's become apparent you can't poke fun at the affectations of someone who might be working class, although you can laugh and gawp all you like at the stupidly wealthy, so long as they've invited the cameras in first.  Does this disprove Jones's first book, or confirm his second, in that the establishment (and capitalism) always succeeds in co-opting what at first was radical?

If we accept Owen's point that we need satire more than ever, it could well be one of the reasons why TV has such a dearth at present is a result of the social media he praises for picking up the slack.  Taking the piss has never been easier, and as this blog has demonstrated time and again, that goes hand in hand with doing it extremely badly.  With the exception of the Daily Mash there isn't really anything or anyone consistently succeeding in finding that sweet spot where truth, humour and offence cohabit in an unholy menage a trois.  When you add in how a gag that once might still have been funny weeks after someone first came up with it can now be dead within a matter of hours thanks to constant retweeting and Facebook pasting, it leaves those who at best have to come up with jokes that are still relevant a week later and at worst months in advance in a quandary.

The other key factor is that quality, or the lack of it.  It's not for want of trying we haven't seen a true successor to Spitting Image, although those who eulogise it seem to forget that its final years were an extremely pale shadow of its 80s heyday.  There's been 10 O'Clock Live, which contrived to waste the considerable talents of Charlie Brooker and David Mitchell while somehow managing to make Lauren Laverne look even more out of her depth than usual (the less said about Jimmy Carr the better).  It proved you can put together half of a comedy dream team and still fail if the writing simply isn't good enough.  Also forgotten is 2DTV, ITV's sort of attempt to do Spitting Image again, only in animated form, and without the humour.  Nor should the TV version of Dead Ringers go without a mention, if only because its Kirsty Wark quoting song lyrics of the time Newsnight rip was amusing.  The rest of it, not so much.  About the best attempt of real note of late has been The Revolution Will Be Televised, and yet while funny, it still comes across as that little bit too consciously left-wing for comfort.

Dare it also be said that if the BBC was prepared or forced to ditch its trilogy of dead on their arse comedy panel shows, HIGNFY, Buzzcocks and Be Rather Smug About the Week all, it might just provide the space where a new format or talents could be properly nurtured.  HIGNFY was last satirical when presented by Angus Deayton, now a very long time ago indeed.  There's also the question of whether it's possible to be populist and truly satirical both - does the Margaret Thatcher puppet, along with her cabinet of vegetables really seem all that funny or cutting in retrospect, or rather just an exaggeration of the truth which fed in to her myth?  Nearer the mark was the grey John Major, although it could just as much be said that was simply following what the public had already decided.  Worth asking too is whether something like the Brass Eye paedophile special would be commissioned today, when social media opprobrium would deliver immediate outrage at satirists daring to suggest there might be just a hint of hysteria in media coverage of the subject.

It could in fact be politicians are completely the wrong targets for satire at the moment.  Politics has gone beyond parody - the leader of the fourth, possibly third biggest party urges women not to breastfeed in public "ostentatiously" lest they offend older people, some mothers presumably having taken to squirting milk into the mouth of their child while sitting on the other side of the table.  The same man blames immigrants overcrowding the M4 for his failure to reach a meeting on time, rather than it being a busy time of year.  Instead of his line in semi-offensive bullshit turning people off, it seems to only make them more determined to vote for him.  Meanwhile, the chancellor of the exchequer all but says "Britain can take it" when it comes to his proposed cuts, as the Liberal Democrats yet again confect to be outraged at what their partner in government is doing.  And Labour is just one big joke, exemplified still by the Emily Thornberry sacking.

No, if satire is to stay relevant it perhaps has to go after those newly powerful in 21st century Britain.  Let's see the mocking of the Twitter mob, whether it be those out for Emily Thornberry's head, or by contrast Julien Blanc's, or Matt Taylor's.  About the closest we get at the moment is Private Eye's From the Message Boards or the odd Craig Brown rip on a specific tweeter.  There could be a line drawn between the modern day censors who've succeeded in preventing children from seeing the hint of breasts on newspaper front pages or inside them and those who then rush for blankets to cover up feeding mothers.  Let's have all social classes and none ruthlessly mocked, whether it be the bell-ends who still have England flags up six months after the World Cup and who are so insular in their outlook they fail to notice there's a by-election on (and whom are ribbed by the rest of the working class more than anyone), the (upper) middle class prats obsessed with house prices and private schooling, and the 1% without the slightest idea as to how the rest live.  Most of all, let's see the leeches on society who make out they're above everyone brought to book, their weblogs laughed at, their own petty yearnings shown up for what they are (cont. p94)

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014 

Is it possible to parody something so clearly beyond parody?

The woman in the Prodigy's Smack My Bitch Up video is the woman we've been waiting for: a woman who does everything the very worst men do and then ends it all with a hearty "fuck you".

The video for Smack My Bitch Up looks on the surface to be a dystopian feminist nightmare: shot entirely from a first person perspective, we see what look to be a man's arms as he prepares for a night out, using shaving cream, going to the toilet (notice that he sits down; is he merely dropping the kids off at the pool or perhaps sitting down for another reason?), snorting cocaine.

Nothing especially wrong with any of that.  It's once he reaches the first bar things start to go awry.  He tries to force a woman to kiss him; he gropes the women he passes on his way down to the stairs into a club; he attacks various people once on the dancefloor, before setting upon the DJ, who seems to be playing a fairly generic 90s piece of electronica which doesn't seem to know whether it wants to be straight up drum and bass or something far more tame, and is enlivened only by the vocal informing us of how the singer is "change[ing] my pitch up" then "smack[ing] my bitch up".  When all else fails, head into obviously controversial territory and then respond in the most obtuse way imaginable.  Just ask Nicki Minaj.

With the track's breakdown swirling in our ears, the ethereal female vocal that accompanies it corresponding with our protagonist injecting something into his arm, the video takes an even darker turn.  He heads for a strip club, again groping a woman on the stairs down into this new hell.  Here we see him getting too close to one dancer for her comfort, raising the question of where the bouncers are, before he somehow manages to seduce one dancer through apparent sheer force of personality.  They steal a car, and retire back to the flat we started out in.  After the requisite amount of gratuitous fumbling around, the dancer leaves as soon as the sex is over.  It's only then our view switches from the door to a mirror where it's revealed that... the person we've been seeing the world through was a woman the entire time!

This bait and switch technique, drawing in those who came for the T and A only then for the video to shove their narrow and sexist motivations back into their faces might seem like having your cake and eating it, but this doesn't matter when the joke's on them.  The video acts out these caricatures for our amusement, while also challenging our prejudices: why couldn't it have been a woman acting in such a way?  Real equality will be here when women have the right to be as stupid and irresponsible as men, and aren't judged differently for it.  This is a band in full creative control of their image, unafraid to troll people if they can also force them into thinking.  How's that for paradigm smashing?

[In answer to the title, no, you really can't.]

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Monday, November 03, 2014 

Six ways you can help stop climate change.

Yes, it's a daunting challenge, and you might well be inclined to hide behind the sofa after the latest report from the IPCC on how life will shortly be even less worth living than it currently is if we go on with our polluting ways, but there are still things we as individuals can do to help.  Here are some suggestions:

1.  Consider killing yourself.  There are simply too damn many of us.  Were humans to vanish from the Earth tomorrow, the planet would heal itself in a matter of years.  Clearly we're not all going to off ourselves, more's the pity, but any contribution to the cause is welcome.

2.  If you can't face suicide for whatever reason, there's always the next best option.  Why not lop off a limb, pluck out an eye or tear and rend at your flesh?  Cutting carbon begins at home.

3.  Stop eating so much, you grotesquely obese piles of filth.  Less heavily processed food means less carbon used to get it to supermarkets, means less walking meat sacks farting and belching out methane, means less shit to step in when you go for a walk in the countryside.  If you can still walk.

4.  Go outside.  Stop reading all this bilge on the internet, retweeting, favouriting, liking, pretending to want to bring back Nigerian girls or that you're supporting #TeamTulisa or whatever you're distracting yourself with today.  Why not double this with 1 or 2 by reclaiming the street?

5.  You still here?

6.  Seriously, number 1.  It's the only answer.  You really think we're going to stop climate change when most of us can't even turn a fucking running tap off?  Or you could go out and buy some LED lightbulbs, plant a tree, that kind of thing.  If it makes you feel better.  There's always pretending science and technology will solve everything too.  Face it, we're doomed.  We had a good run.  Let's just not take everything else down with us, eh?

In other depressing news:

  • Home secretary desperately sorry for not appointing anti-establishment figure to head abuse inquiry, Russell Brand and Nigel Farage unavailable
  • Desperate blogger writes desperately unfunny, mocking response to well-meaning comment piece, still likely to vote Green in 2015

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Monday, October 27, 2014 

Enoch: "I misspoke".

Despite being dead for 16 years, Enoch Powell has surprised politics by admitting that he was "careless" in his notorious "rivers of blood" speech.

"I used words I wouldn't have normally," said the reanimated former Ulster Unionist MP.  "To be frank, I misspoke."

"Looking back now, there are many obvious problems with my oration.  For instance, I quoted an unnamed man, who said "in this country in 15 or 20 years' the black man will have the whip hand over the white man" .  Quite apparently, those were my views, and I shouldn't have tried to hide behind someone else in such an intellectually dishonest manner.

"Also, in quoting Virgil from the Aenied, who wrote of the "river Tiber foaming with much blood", I wore my past, that of a professor of the classics, rather heavily.  I was posing as the prophet, expecting riots, perhaps almost hoping there would be.

"You'll have noted that despite these qualifications, I haven't actually stepped back from anything I said at the time.  As I don't regret it for a second.  The lesson is clear: you can say the most outrageous things so long as you use language carefully.  Michael Fallon's real mistake was in mixing his metaphors: how on earth can a place be swamped as well as under siege?  As for his past reference to Bryony Gordon as a "slut", he ought to have referred to her as "not being known to express prejudice".  Unlike myself.  Ha ha."

In other news:

Faceless McNomark, the TV executive behind this year's smash hit fly-on-the-wall documentary Just Take a Gander at These Feckless Cunts, has defended the show amid continuing protests at the filming of two follow-up series.

"They assume we have malign intent, when we don't," the indignant McNomark told me.  "There isn't an agenda.  Just because we suggested the documentary was going to be called "Community Spirit" doesn't mean they have a right to complain.  Indeed, what they're calling for is nothing less than censorship.  I will never relinquish our right to take advantage of and completely fictionalise the stories of some of the most distressed parts of our society."

Due for broadcast in January and March, Why Aren't You Stringing These Scrounging Bastards Up Right Now? and Filthy Fucking Pikeys: Over Here, Taking Your Jobs promise a new paradigm in current affairs programming.

In short:

PM in security scare: proves the prime minister needs more security, say security experts
Media obsessed with Russell Brand, complains everyone over the age of 10
Media not obsessed enough with Russell Brand, complains Russell Brand
War in Afghanistan draws to a close - sequel expected in 2017

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014 

So damn easy to cave in.

Pressure is once again growing on ministers over their latest choice of candidate to lead the inquiry into historic child sexual abuse.

It had been thought all sides would unite around the appointment of the Witchsmeller Pursuivant, known for his long record in uncovering paedophiles, including in cases where there was no record of the guilty so much as having contact with a child.  "He's completely unbiased," said a ministerial source.  "Every single person he has accused has been found guilty, as proved by their failure to pass ordeal by water.  You can't get more unbiased than that."

Campaigners have since discovered however that Mr Pursuivant is a 10th cousin, thrice removed of Lord Brittan, bringing his objectivity into question.  The Witchsmeller denies ever meeting Lord Brittan, but admits he cannot guarantee having never been within 10 miles of the former Conservative home secretary, the latest stipulation asked for by MPs and lawyers.

Simon Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale, was scathing of the choice of Mr Pursuivant.  "How many more times does this government intend to choose establishment figures who are unable to prove they are sufficiently removed from Lord Brittan?  That he can't account for every single one of his movements over the course of the past 45 years simply isn't acceptable.  I don't know what world these people inhabit but where I come from you know if you're within 10 miles of a lizard in human skin.  You can smell them for a start."

Asked who he would like to chair the inquiry, Danczuk had the answer.  "There is only one man for the job.  I realise Geoffrey Dickens has been dead for 19 years, but that doesn't mean he can't be channelled by a medium, one suitably removed from Leon Brittan, obviously.  His spirit would also be able to answer questions over the contents of his dossier as no one else could.  The fact he was vehemently opposed to the occult poses a problem, I'll admit, but it shouldn't be insurmountable.  I'm sure he'll understand."

Should Pursuivant be forced to stand down, he will join Lady Butler-Sloss, Fiona Woolf, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Will.i.am, Jeremy Irons, Sara Payne and Chris Hansen, all of whom have been appointed only to then resign.

In other news:
Ched Evans speaks - "It wasn't rape, just a light sexual assault, and I apologise for my infidelity"
Meghan Trainor withdraws All About That Bass from sale, apologises for pretending to be African-American
Man kills everything

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Monday, September 01, 2014 

Y'all are breaking the first two rules of Fight Club.

EXCLUSIVE TO ALL NEWSPAPERS AND NEWS SITES


  • IF YOU DOWNLOAD THE LEAKED CELEBRITY PICTURES YOU'RE JUST AS BAD AS THE EVIL, VILE PERVERT WHO RELEASED THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE, PERPETUATING THE ABUSE
  • A COMPLETE HISTORY OF EBAUM'S WORLD, THE WEBSITE WHERE YOU CAN FIND THE LEAKED CELEBRITY PICTURES

In related news:

  • Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, Hadley Freeman and Jess Cartner-Morley on how to take a better naked selfie - "get the lighting right and the rest will follow"
  • Kate Upton joins Arsenal on season-long loan in defensive midfielder role
  • Seth MacFarlane Oscar routine suddenly even creepier in retrospect
  • David Cameron attacks Magna Carta, media uninterested after finding she hasn't had risqué self-shots leaked
  • Jessica Brown Findlay, in all seriousness, we're really, really sorry

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014 

Those 10 funniest Edinburgh festival jokes in full.

1. "I ate some sausages laced with nitroglycerin other day. Boy did they go off with a bang!"

2. "I was going to put some jokes about badgers in my set. Then I remembered the Tories had them all shot!"

3. "Always leave them wanting more, my uncle used to say.  Which is why he loved working in the kitchens at Dachau."

4. "Scotland had oil, but it's running out because you're all such fat, greedy bastards!"

5. "I wanted to make the most obvious gags about being a feminist and married, and my husband couldn't persuade me not to."

6. "There was Ms Costello, Mr Brockett, Ms Wardman and Mr Johnson.  And that was just the teachers. Ahhh."

7. "Did you threaten to overrule him?"

8. "The yes campaign will make up the difference between now and September 18th."

(That's enough unfunny jokes about unfunny jokes. Ed.)

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Thursday, August 14, 2014 

CLIFF RICHARD SENSATION.

POP SINGER'S HOME RAIDED AFTER POLICE RECEIVED TIP OFF OVER "CRYING, WALKING, SLEEPING, TALKING LIVING DOLL" LOCKED IN TRUNK.

RICHARD DENIES ALL KNOWLEDGE, CLAIMS NOT TO BE WIRED FOR SOUND.

TOM WATSON OFFERS CONGRATULATIONS AND (CONT. p94)

In other news:

Sexist money-grubbing bully says good riddance to biting racist
Fighting in entire Middle East, north Africa, section of Eurasia continues
Egypt massacre worse than Tiananmen, Tony Blair still peace envoy

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Monday, August 04, 2014 

Funeral march for agony's last edge.

WORLD LEADERS ATTEND WWI CENTENARY EVENTS

REMEMBRANCE AND LEARNING THE LESSONS THE MAIN THEME

"MOST ENDURING LEGACY IS OUR LIBERTY," SAYS DAVID CAMERON. "WE MUST NEVER FORGET."

KEY QUOTES:

"When you think that almost every family, almost every community was affected, almost a million British people were lost in this war, it is right that even 100 years on, we commemorate it, we think about it and we mark it properly." -- David Cameron.

“The first world war will serve as a reminder of the brutality of conflict for generations to come and a reminder to those in power to avoid entering war unless it is absolutely necessary.” -- Ed Miliband.

"Thanks for fucking up the Boche while we got our shit together Belgium." -- Prince William.

"I think a curse should rest on me — because I love this war. I know it's smashing and shattering the lives of thousands every moment — and yet — I can't help it — I enjoy every second of it." -- Winston Churchill

In other news:

Fighting in Libya rages three years after Western intervention

Fighting in Iraq rages eleven years after Western intervention

Insurgency in Afghanistan continues thirteen years after Western intervention, recount in disputed presidential election goes on

Fighting in Gaza rages as politicians umm and arr over what is and isn't disproportionate at the same time as resupplying the Israeli military

REMINDER:

Turn your lights out tonight between 10 and 11 to demonstrate your depth of feeling for the sacrifice made by those who fought to secure our freedom.  If you find your attempts to knock yourself out aren't working, please tweet @lightsoutcompliance with your location and a NHS-sanctioned unconsciousness consultant will visit to ensure your conformity with this entirely voluntary and by no means redundant gesture.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014 

Those all important silly season stories in full.*

Death to racist feather headdress wearing festival fucks, says the Graun.

Commonwealth games awesome says athlete, Commonwealth games pointless and bit shit say public.

Ebola: we could die, say people in affected countries.  Ebola: we're all going to die, say Telegraph, Mail and government of hypochondriac dickheads.

Real-life Nathan Barley gets TV series on dedicated idiot channel in latest example of death of satire.

Person with breasts attacks other person with breasts.

People on Twitter do something in defiance of something someone somewhere said.

People use internet to advertise drugs, shock BBC investigation finds.

I've had just as much if not more casual sex than Byrony Gordon, pay me the same level of attention pleads Rhiannon Lucy Seagulling Cosslett.

Album format dead, say artists who've never managed to produce a single decent tune.

I can't make promises on tax, says Cameron. Cameron to cut tax, reports entire media.

ISIS releases video of murder of dozens of captives, Tony Blair still Middle East peace envoy, George W. Bush still incoherent inoffensive dauber, Israel still decimating Gaza to neutralise terror threat.

*In full meaning as many as I can stand without getting a hatchet and driving it with full force into my skull.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014 

Boy, 4, has the mark of Murdoch.

The parents of a boy, 4, were horrified when a "mark of Rupert Murdoch" appeared on his forehead.

Tracy Gardner and Nobby Torchwood spotted the dollar symbol as they got their son, Keith, out of bed one morning.

The sinister sign of the evil one is proving a devil to explain.  The imprint has baffled his parents, teachers and even the family's GP, all of whom are apparently as thick as pig shit.  Or we might be making this background detail up.

Shocked Tracy, born yesterday, of Salem, West Norwood Cassette Library, said: “It’s a nightmare. Some people have said it’s the symbol of Mammon — the sign of the worship of money above everything else — which has been very upsetting.

“Just looking at it made me shake thinking the soul of that terrible man had visited my boy.  Something or someone had made the sign on him but we just can't explain how, as neither Nobby or I have the power of independent thought, believing instead everything we see on Channel 5.”

Wondering if it might be a skin infection or rash, they took Keith to their GP, Dr. Nick Riveria.

"He too was baffled.  He recommended we take him for an MRI scan, privately, as the NHS is very pushed at the moment.  We didn't however have the £5,000 to spare."

Worried Tracy put a picture of Keith on Facebook, where it soon received 5 likes, and attracted a comment from among others, Tom Watson MP.  "Clearly this boy has been touched by a presence not unlike the one that made me start believing the claims of ludicrous Tory MPs of the 1980s.  We need a public inquiry into this right now."

Other MPs have also since raised their concerns, as parliament is in recess and they have to keep tweeting in order to give the impression they're doing something.  "What possible justification can there be for calling the Sun a newspaper," Abraham Shelley didn't ask, "when it publishes trash not even the cheaper knock-offs of Take a Break would touch with a ten foot pole?  That's the real issue, especially when the parents of the boy obviously sold the story and don't care about their or his privacy in the first place."

THE SUN SAYS

Our story is totally justified on two grounds.  First, it's the silly season, and the rest of the press are filling their pages with similar guff.  It's not as though there's civil war in Libya, massacre after massacre in Gaza or conflict in Ukraine we could be reporting on.  That costs money.

Second, every time there's OUTRAGE about something we just get more attention, clicks and subscribers.  Last time we checked Mail Online has 190m unique visitors a month, despite Twitter and the chattering classes hating the paper with a passion.  You're feeding us, you gullible, keyboard slamming morons.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014 

Spectators of suicide.

Visitors to our house can be left in no doubt as to which pop stars my daughter Jessica likes.

Drinks are taken from a Suicide cup, their age-worn faces blearily staring out at us at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The band's debut album, also titled Suicide, is on permanent loop, while at weekends Jessica deafens all and sundry with the lo-fi recordings captured between 1977-78 of their live shows.  Posters of Alan Vega (64) and Martin Rev (age unknown) stare down from her bedroom wall.

Alan is her favourite, she tells me on a daily basis.  She believes he can do no wrong. Last week, when my wife calmly suggested the late Sid Vicious was a better singer than Alan, World War III broke out.

Tears were shed and in the fallout, I found myself under attack for claiming, months earlier, that X-Ray Spex were more successful than Suicide.

I'll admit this makes my daughter rather strange.  While all her friends are devoted to the likes of One Direction, she delights in the ten minute long Frankie Teardrop, a song about a Vietnam veteran who kills his wife and child in despair.

And you know what, I'm glad she likes an obscure proto-punk band who despite their lack of commercial success have been highly influential.  I could be the type of father who is so devoted to the well-being of my daughter that I'm willing to write about her for a national newspaper, pretending to feel let down by her heroes appearing to smoke cannabis.  I could be the type of father who denies taking his little girl to a concert by her favourite group on the basis she's too young, despite knowing full well 8-year-olds are the prime audience for One Direction, and now feels smug about it in light of the shock revelation.  I could be the type of father who finds the fact young men in a beat combo are liable to get tattoos, have pop-star girlfriends and occasionally sample "Mary J" an example of their lack of responsibility, a betrayal of our trust, as proof they are unworthy of my daughter's loving affection, just as other men also will be in the future.

But I'm not.  Mainly because I'm not real, and am just a device to weakly mock a Daily Mail article.  If I was though, I'd be glad my daughter is already at a young age discovering what real life is like.  At times it will feel like you're having axes thrown at you, as happened to Suicide at a gig in Glasgow.  The sooner you learn that, the better.  It might also stop my daughter from rebelling against my overly protective, 19th century values by getting knocked up when she's 15 by a kid called Spud.  Your choice.

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Monday, February 10, 2014 

The floodapocalypse.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. With Owen "the badgers are moving the goalposts" Paterson otherwise indisposed with a detached retina, into the puddle has stomped Eric Pickles, a force of nature few would like to be subjected to.  Where Paterson seemed just a touch too smooth to really feel the pain of those currently up to their neck in the mixture of sewage, mud and stagnant water, Pickles is all too rough and ready. And if the worst comes to worst, he could quite easily double as a raft, his buoyancy beyond question.

Yes, it's the floodapocalypse, the country not having been this saturated since Simon Cowell left to break America.  Suitably broken, Cowell is back, and has brought the weather with him.  With January the wettest month since records began around the time of Ethelred the Unready, a fair proportion of the country is underwater, which means only one thing: someone, somewhere, is responsible.  You could quibble and say that such an unprecedented amount of precipitation was always going to cause flooding regardless of how many rivers had been dredged, or fields left to be used as additional flood plains, but clearly you'd be wrong.  This is not the time for saying oh dear, how terrible about your fields, at least we've saved thousands of houses from being made uninhabitable, this is the time for gestures, tours of the affected areas and dozens upon dozens of COBRA meetings.

While there has been widespread damage to the coast over the past month and many areas remain underwater, what you might not necessarily realise despite the coverage is the tiny number of houses that have actually been flooded, at least in Somerset itself, not including the flooding along the Thames today.  This stands at 40, which seems remarkable.  This isn't to underestimate the effect of being cut off by the floods, which is the real problem in the Levels, but it certainly puts it into perspective.  As the BBC's Paul Hudson points out, this is a minuscule amount when compared with the 688 properties affected by the coastal surge on the Yorkshire coast late last year, let alone the 23,479 homes that were flooded back in 2007 in the Yorkshire/Humber region alone.  Over the past 10 weeks about 5,000 properties in total around the country have been flooded

This helps to explain why it wasn't initially a big story that such a large area of Somerset had been and remains flooded.  Yes, the area and plenty of land has been hard hit, but the houses have mostly been spared.  Such a situation cannot go on for such a period of time however without someone getting the blame, and the Environment Agency has had it squarely in the neck.  Head of the quango Lord (Chris) Smith complains that his hands had been tied by rules set down by successive governments, and that only £400,000 was provided in 2012 as a consequence, nowhere enough for the job of removing silt from the rivers in the Levels to be done properly.  He also mentions the 1.3 million properties that have not been flooded due to his organisation's work.

With Pickles in charge though as Paterson continues to recuperate, the shit-throwing duly commenced.  He blamed the EA for giving duff advice to ministers, all but suggesting Smith should be shown the door, only for Paterson to complain to David Cameron that Pickles was clearly criticising past ministers at the same time.  Understandable as it is for all involved to look for someone to be held responsible, as the only other thing to do is either visit those affected, with a procession of the great and not so good donning waterproofs and rubber boots to visit Burrowbridge, Nigel Farage finally succeeding in finding a flood of some sort, even if not of Romanians or Bulgarians, or pretend to be in some sort of control by holding discussions in the Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms, it just makes all involved look even more pathetic than usual.  At least King Cnut made clear he couldn't hold back the elements.  These cunts try and pretend otherwise.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014 

Why I'm speaking up for myself against everyone who has criticised me.

You've probably never heard of me, as no doubt you have better things to do with your life than follow the online adventures of the Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, but a couple of weeks ago I tweeted something which has the potential to be truly revolutionary.

I tweeted a picture of the online Jesus and Mo cartoon, the one that both Viz and Private Eye would reject as being a bit pathetic and transparent.  For those not in the know, this has caused controversy in the past, mainly among those who are always looking to be offended.  If nothing else, I know a controversy I can exploit when I see one.  After all, I was the person who felt Tommy Robinson or whatever his real name is (he hasn't actually told me it, but it's not important) was just desperate to get away from the far-right organisation he created.  That Robinson has now been sent to prison again and tweeted after the sentence that it was a "stitch-up" in no way means I was wrong to try and get him to slightly rebrand his unique critique of Islam.

I tweeted it not because I was seeking to speak for anyone other than myself, but because I know the only way to keep my think-tank Quilliam going is to make ever greater attention-seeking gestures.  I'd noticed you see that there's a certain section of the left-wing Twitterati/commentariat that is outraged by everything and anything some Muslims do politically.  A month ago the issue of the week was the voluntary segregation that fundamentalists at universities were insisting upon, and which the official guidance had acquiesced in.  Somehow Downing Street intervened, and soon everyone was backtracking.  It didn't matter that this essentially means fundamentalist women won't be able to attend speeches by their favourite extremist, and I speak having previously ploughed that furrow, or will just mean that such meetings will have to happen off campus, clearly an important wrong has been righted.

Why then shouldn't I join in?  There was never any chance of Nick Clegg or the Liberal Democrats deselecting me down to my tweet; look how they've dealt with Lord Rennard and Mike Hancock for goodness sake, so there was next to no risk.  Death threats?  I was in prison in Egypt for goodness sake.

You see though, this isn't about me.  Honest, it isn't.  No, I was speaking up for my religion.  Not all of us Muslims are mouth-breathers without a sense of humour, or who are offended by someone drawing a line and writing "Muhammad" next to it.  Some of us are also extremely ambitious and know how to get people like Nick Cohen writing columns.  I did it to create a space for people to speak out without being immediately accused of blasphemy, for Salmaan Taseer, Muhammad Asghar, Malala and Salman Rushdie.

Fundamentally, I believe in the same things as you do, just like most ordinary Muslims.  I'm not ordinary obviously, but you get the point.  I believe in the ability of those on social networks and in the modern media to blow extremely minor spats out of all proportion, presenting them as though they are about the very fundamentals of freedom of speech; I believe in making the most of such outbreaks of bullshit; and most importantly, I believe in myself.

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013 

That David Cameron Christmas message in full.

Hullo!

I'm writing this message just before Sam and I sit down to enjoy a thoroughly seasonal retrospective of Breaking Bad.  The travails of a chemistry teacher with cancer who turns to producing meth might not seem festive, but I believe it carries a message for us all at this time of year.  However dismal life might seem, all you need is a little bit of aspiration and you can turn everything around.

Just look at the economy.  It's thanks to the efforts of millions who go out and work hard every day that we're making real progress.  We've proved all those naysayers who predicted a triple-dip recession at the beginning of the year wrong, and growth is now really motoring along.  There's a few people who want to try and talk down the recovery, moaning that there isn't enough full-time work, that wages are still stagnating, or that the growth is as unsustainable as that engineered by Gordon Brown, but frankly they want to take us backwards, not forwards, refusing to accept we're in a global race.

It's not all about hard-working families who want to get on though, although honestly it is.  At this time of year we should also spare a thought for those who attempt to keep on strengthening our society too - like a politician who came up with a fantastic idea to how charities and volunteers could step in and help people help themselves - yes, I'm talking about myself and the big society.  It's a idea I'll admit I haven't focused on of late, but this Christmas it's really come into its own.  Let's hear it for charities like Shelter, trying to ensure everyone has a home this festive season, and the Trussell Trust, which runs hundreds of food banks up and down the country.  Without these organisations many wouldn't have either a roof over their heads or Bernard Matthews Turkey Twizzlers to eat.  Truly, in these times of austerity the government is most grateful that the blame for such hardship is placed squarely on the individual and not on the state.

Just as we must honour those who live out to the letter that verse in Acts, that 'it is more blessed to give than to receive', we can't avoid also dealing with those who believe it is more blessed to take than do an honest day's work.  Like those people who maintain workfare is in some way unfair, as though being asked to work for your pittance is an abuse of human rights, or those who think it's funny to call the spare room subsidy the bedroom tax.  Rest assured that those stuck on benefits without hope or responsibility will find 2014 to be an even more hostile environment than 2013 was.  That also goes for any Romanians and Bulgarians who dare to venture to Britain come January 1st.  We've arranged to have Keith Vaz meet them off the plane, and if that doesn't make them think twice I don't know what will.

Lastly, as well as remembering our servicemen and women, who will shortly be returning home from Afghanistan with mission accomplished, although no one can quite remember what the mission was, we should also think of other civil servants who have been much maligned this year.  Yes, we should give thanks for the snoopers, hackers and crackers at GCHQ and their counterparts in the Security Service and the Special Intelligence Service, all of whom have been personally traduced by the accusations made against them in a rag I will not so much as name.  They've kept us safe, or at least have up to a point, and all they get in return is insults and jibes.  I personally am thankful for all that they do for us, just as we should be for the hope given to millions by the birth of Jesus Christ.  It's all some of the less fortunate have, and as both Nick and Ed don't believe in God, or Santa for that matter, it's left to me to hold Jesus's banner aloft.  Thank you, Santa Christ.

With season's greetings,
Dave

(P.S.  All the usual end of year gubbins will be up sometime between the 27th and the end of the year, if I manage to get through the backlog of albums I still have to listen to between now and then.  Tch, the things I do for this blog, eh?)

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013 

Those 10 X Factor changes for 2016 in full.

1. Simon Cowell to return to the show in robot form. The Cowell android will be indistinguishable from the real thing (high trousers, inane grin, wads of cash poking out of back pockets), and be programmed to give 5 interchangeable put downs, along with 1 ridiculously overblown monologue of praise. If another dowdy Scottish spinster with a voice of an angel should audition, the unit will applaud furiously and then self-destruct.

2. The set will be redesigned, with further inspiration taken from the style of mid-1930s Europe. The already intimidating aesthetic of swooping, dramatic lighting and terrifyingly loud Wagnerian music will be added to with floor to ceiling banners, the audience marching to their seats, and the judges saluting the robot Cowell as it trundles in. Megaphones will also be distributed to the crowd, who will be asked to scream "HAIL!" before and after Cowell gives his verdict.

3. In a new twist, the most widely lauded auditionee after boot camp will join the judges and have the deciding vote, thereby avoiding the embarrassment of having turned to talentless nobodies to adjudicate over talentless nobodies in the past.

4. In the most dramatic departure of all, the public will vote for which auditionee they thought the worst, who will then be subject to mock execution. Believing they really are about to be killed, the electric chair/gallows/guillotine/crucifix (the method will change each week) will in fact fail at the last moment, with the lights coming on to reveal an audience all wearing Cowell masks (this change presumes a Conservative victory in 2015, and the anticipated withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights).

 5. The winner will no longer receive a Syco record contract due to budget cuts. The new prize will be a tour of Abbey Road, a £25 iTunes card and a packet of wine gums.

 6. ITV to be renamed SCTV.

7. Err...

8. That's it.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013 

Get over here!

In a sign of the race to succeed David Dimbleby as the scion of the BBC establishment heating up still further, both Hugh Edwards and Jeremy Paxman have been to quick to reveal that unlike Dimbleby, they've been sporting ink for far longer than the Question Time and election special host.

"While they might not look like it," said Edwards, in an interview with Horse and Hound magazine, "I can reveal that my lips are actually tattoos.  I thought accentuating the outlines would help my career.  Unfortunately, I didn't realise quite how painful having a red hot needle poked through one of the most sensitive parts of the skin would be, and I was left with the problem of my upper lip curling when I speak.  To my surprise, this facial quirk seems to delight some viewers, even bringing comparisons to Elvis.  It certainly hasn't done any harm in the long run."

"While it might not look like it," said Paxman, in an interview with Hirsute Monthly, "my sudden penchant for facial hair is in fact a cleverly conceived ruse. My chin does indeed seem to be sprouting hair, but it's actually an incredibly complex and realistic tattoo of a beard. I can't be bothered with keeping growth on my face in trim, so I had it all removed by laser and got the ink instead. Some of the more observant Newsnight viewers have noticed it hasn't been getting longer, and Dimbleby's off the wall six-legged scorpion made me decide to come clean."

Other unlikely celebrities to reveal their love for tattoos include George Osborne, who has a black line down the middle of his nose, not realising it would make his appendage look like buttocks, and Cliff Richard, who has a "living doll" he says talks to him etched on his chest. The Sun is even reporting that the Queen is thinking of getting a tribal butterfly on her lower back, in a gesture designed to show there's no reason for her subjects to be embarrassed by such ink, unlike Cheryl Cole.  Prince Harry meanwhile quite fancies a traditional Indian symbol (That's enough made-up tattoos. Ed.)

In other news:
Disaster in Philippines, thousands dead, not yet known how many were tattooed
Third Dimbleby brother, locked away in family annexe, revealed not to have tattoos
18-year-olds see sad old men getting tattoos, say fuck this shit

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Monday, November 04, 2013 

I WAS STITCHED UP TOO, SAYS TV'S ESTHER

The "Plebgate" scandal took a new twist yesterday when Esther Rantzen, former host of much-loved now defunct BBC1 show That's Life!, yes, the one with the amusingly shaped vegetables and the talking dogs, recalled how she too was subject to police lies.

"The officer who stopped us when we were travelling at a mere 110mph through a 30mph speed limit wrote down that my dear now deceased husband Desmond Wilcox had said to him: "I am the well-known celebrity producer Desmond Wilcox, and my wife Esther Rantzen is a TV celebrity; don't you know who we are?"

"Of course, he would never have said anything like that.  He was humble enough to know no one knew who he was, he merely said that I was Esther Rantzen, and didn't he know who I was.  Clearly, there's a few rotten apples in the barrels [sic] where this just comes as second nature.  I would have taken the matter further, but we felt we had no chance against the word of a police officer.  That, and the owners of the dog we had run over and dragged along under the car for 10 miles also didn't take kindly to the don't you know who we are argument."

Rantzen is appearing in panto this year as the Cheshire Cat.

In other news:
Dead black man latest suspect in Madeleine case, say Metropolitan police
EU support wafer thin, says Mr Creosote
Aircraft carrier contract renegotiated, vessels now to be built to float
I bedded Sir Alex Ferguson, says Sven-Goran Erikkson. "He was less hair dryer, more blow (That's enough. Ed)

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Thursday, October 24, 2013 

Those letters between the press and the Queen in full.

Your Majesty,
                             (Actually, before we get started, do you mind if we call you Liz? Your Majesty is really quite formal, and as modern press representatives we loathe formality, as your friend and ours Paul "double cunting" Dacre attests. OK, Liz it is.)

Liz,
      As you will no doubt be aware as a regular puruser of our publications, your government is currently try to ram through statutory regulation of the press. We believe this would signal the end of 300 years of press freedom, and as it is being achieved through a royal charter, we also believe it has the potential to sully the good name of the finest monarchy in the world.

We're sure you agree far too much has been made of the fact one or two newspapers were caught breaking the law on an industrial scale just to get the latest exclusive on which celebrity was shagging another, as we know you're as partial to OK! magazine as most other housewives. That we may have also smeared a few people who were arrested for serious crimes and then released without charge, or hacked the mobile phone of a murdered schoolgirl we can't condone, but such things have to be put in the context of our contribution to democracy, as recent articles such as Red Ed: Did his evil Marxist father help with the attempt on the life of Princess Anne? make apparent. Hopefully you'll also overlook this whole thing started with the regrettable hacking of the phones of members of the royal household. You wouldn't hold that against us, would you?

Britain has long stood as a shining beacon of freedom, and the vibrancy of the press has always reflected that. Our notoriety worldwide has been hard won, and not something we will relinquish lightly. The freedom of the press is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, drafted by our very own Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, and the fact that some of us have long campaigned for the abolition of the Human Rights Act and withdrawal from his charter for criminals and terrorists by no means makes us horrendous hypocrites.

Worst of all, the charter would almost certainly be used by autocrats and repressive governments worldwide as an excuse for attacks on the press in their respective countries.  This terrifying knock-on effect will be all the more devastating as it will carry with it the respect in which you personally, and the crown institutionally, are held throughout the world.  Of course, that we've never previously shown the slightest interest in freedom of the press worldwide, and have no problem with running supplements paid for by tyrants is something that shouldn't be held against us.  Nor does the fact some of us have suggested the Guardian should be shut down, prosecuted for endangering the security of the nation, and Alan Rusbridger strung up from the nearest lamppost mean that far from believing in the freedom of expression we believe only in the freedom to make money.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

We therefore urge you, Liz, as the final guarantor of freedom of expression across the UK and your Commonwealth, not to sign this charter.  We hope you found this morning's headlines, where we universally described your great grandson as "Georgeous", to your liking, and that you've forgotten all about our publishing of photos of Fergie toe-sucking, Harry buck-ass naked and the hounding of your daughter-in-law to the point where she died trying to escape from our photographers.

Signed by the Paul Dacre and Rupert Murdoch no surrender committee

-----------------------------------------------
 

Dear representatives of the press,                                           
                                                                     Piss orf.
The Queen (Liz)

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Thursday, August 08, 2013 

Save us from the trolls Dave!

There is growing pressure on social networking sites to do something about something tonight, as politicians and newspapers alike blame them for every single problem in the world today.

The prime minister David Cameron led the way, urging everyone to boycott ask.fm until it stopped working as any sort of service.  Speaking to Sky News, Cameron said: "These people have got to step up to the chicken basket and show some responsibility.  Simply allowing users of the site to block anonymous messages isn't good enough.  If someone makes nuisance phone calls, we obviously don't hold the caller responsible; we blame BT for allowing the call through in the first place, even if they have so-called call blocking available.  The same goes for the postal service.  If a mail bomb slips through the net and it kills someone, then obviously the postman who delivered it should be held accountable.  It's just common sense."

Expanding on his theme, Cameron continued: "Now while it's true that I hadn't heard of this ask.fm website until yesterday, that shouldn't stop me from talking about something I know absolutely nothing about.  I really do encourage a boycott, as I've also been told that the one organised by the delightful Caitlin Moran on Twitter was such a huge success last Sunday, at least until the new Doctor Who was announced.  If we stop using these sites, there's absolutely no chance whatsoever that people will simply move elsewhere, or that bullies will strike offline rather than online.  We must drain this eco-system of hate."

The tabloids meanwhile have called for more meaningful action.  Both the Sun and Daily Mail have demanded that ask.fm be banned, once again demonstrating their profound understanding of how the internet works.  Neither paper has any truck with bullies, as the comments section on the Mail website regularly demonstrates, regarded universally as a haven of informed, reasonable debate.  Likewise, columnists Richard Littlejohn and Jan Moir would never dream of writing about minorities in a prejudiced or inflammatory style.  As for the Sun, only those with extremely long memories can recall that during its campaign for Baby Peter the social workers involved with his case were urged to kill themselves by those commenting online, something that might cause a few regrets considering that two of the paper's journalists charged in connection with Operation Elveden have since had their own mental health problems.

We asked a random nerd slamming away at a keyboard for his take on these events.  "It's all a bit knee jerk, isn't it?  For a start, we don't know exactly why these four young people took their own lives.  Were they just being bullied on ask.fm, or were they being bullied offline as well?  Did they have other relationship problems, or had any relatives or friends recently been ill or died?  I've had depression myself, and I find it difficult to believe that it was just bullying online that led them to take such a drastic step.  It could have been the trigger, or the last straw certainly, but we can't just blame a website without knowing the full facts, and you would have thought anti-bullying and children's campaigners would know that."

"Besides, why is it that parental responsibility seems such a foreign concept when it comes to the internet?  Yes, it's difficult if you don't understand the technology and the slang, and when you can't have complete control due to almost every device now having net access, but clearly you have to talk with your kids about the sites they use and let them know they can always come to you if they don't feel safe.  It's no use blaming a service if you don't use the privacy settings it has available.  Those truly responsible here are the pathetic little shits who think it's hilarious to tell 14-year-old girls they're fat and ugly and should die. How about we go after the messengers rather than the message provider?"

"As for the tabloids, could you possibly tell it's the silly season? Any passing frenzy will do, even if it's likely that the internet as a whole helps those who feel excluded in real life far more than it harms those already vulnerable (just look at the It Gets Better campaign). They're also looking for anything to distract from their own far from honourable record when it comes to treating those who come to their attention with respect, especially as argument continues over the royal charter to establish the new press regulator."

A reward (a wine gum and a can of cream soda) is being offered for any information that leads to the tracking down of a Labour shadow minister.

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