29.1.11

BUGGED BY THE NEWSPAPERS

This week a man I hadn't given a moments thought to made the kind of comment that is so fatuous, ill-thought out, moronic, incorrect and insignificant that it's hardly worth the bother of  travelling from his peanut of a brain through the vaccuum of solid air trapped in his stone-age head to his sweaty, rubbery lips... and yet this comment dominated the newspapers for a week and cost the chump over a million pounds a year.

Wow.

Just think about that for a second.

A stupid laddish blurt worth negative £1 million pounds.
A year!

That has got to be some comment.
Gotta be better than Tony Blair's 'They have weapons of mass destruction', Bill Clinton's 'I did not have sex with that woman' or Fred West's 'I'm just doing a spot of DIY'.

What could this modern-day horror have said?
What could you possibly say that costs you your vastly overpaid job?


'Women don't understand the off-side rule'.

Is that it?
Big deal.

Neither do I.
And what's more, I don't fucking WANT to.

Mind you, the woman in question is a lineswoman so she's probably got more of an idea than I have.
As it turned out she's also got more of an idea than our formerly-permed up 70's footballing chimp.

The idiot.
Don't he even watch other commentators?

Don't he realise that football commentators are just supposed to be homophobic and racist, NOT sexist. 

Idiot.

Anyway, the world reacted slightly different than I did, while the Tunisian police shot people in the street and Egypt became a cinder our newspapers decided to take the moral high ground and belatedly, and bizarrely, fight for women's rights.

    
   

Yes.
British tabloid newspapers decided that this kind of sexist oppression COULD NOT STAND!!

Then, under the headline "GET 'EM OFF", referring of course to the two sports 'pundits', despite being accompanied by a picture of lineswoman Sian Massey dancing in a short skirt and vest, The Sun argued that women should NOT be treated as mere objects.
They're not just there to, say, decorate the front of a popular periodical in a state of undress, or provide unwarranted titillation with your fry-up breakfast. 

No! Women are not just objects.
They have minds too.

Women like The Sun's News In Briefs 'star' that day, Peta (23) from Essex, who used her mind to condemn charmless Andy Gray and his co-accused Richard Keys (who you may remember from being on the proper telly in the 1980's) by quoting the 'Heart of Darkness' author Joseph Conrad - I shit you not.

Yes Peta (23) from Essex, was so incensed by the sexism that had reared its ugly head over on Sky TV, which is of course owned by the same person that owns The Sun and is CONSTANTLY advertised and referred to in The Sun, that she forgot to put her bra and top on.

She was THAT angry about it.


She 'said':
"Author Joseph Conrad summed it up best, I feel, saying 'being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men.'"

In just her pink thong.

Thanks, Peta (23) from Essex.
Mrs Pankhurst is very proud of you.

Astonishing.
Within three pages the Sun had reduced two women to the status of sex objects while arguing that they shouldn't be reduced to the status of sex objects.
That, and the fact that the whole story had originated from a private off-air conversation between two morons at the PRECISE TIME THE SUN'S SISTER PAPER, 'THE NEWS OF THE WORLD', IS BEING INVESTIGATED FOR EAVESDROPPING ON PRIVATE CONVERSATIONS, means that the levels within levels of hypocrisy at work in this non-story are truly astounding.

It's like the movie 'Inception' with massive tits.
Well, at least two massive tits.

The FA didn't really help matters by deciding that it was best that Sian Massey not speak to the Press. That's not sexist at all, is it? 'You don't worry your pretty little head about all this, Sian. We'll sort it out. Now, now. Men talking here.'

They claimed they didn't want any undue attention on her at the next fixture. I'm no expert but here's a Top Tip for you if you don't want any undue attention at a football match - DON'T RUN BETWEEN THE FOOTBALLERS AND THE BAYING MOB OF IDIOTS THAT PAY TO SEE THEM WHILE DRESSED IN SHORTS AND START WAVING A FLAG ABOUT.

Sky TV then cemented its position as the Germaine Greer of TV channels by 'uncovering' further sexism by these two middle-aged muppets when it 'discovered' footage of Gray asking an attractive co-presenter to put her hand down his pants to 'adjust his mic' (presumably it is in his pants to hear him a little better as it is evident he speaks out of his arse and clearly thinks through his cock).
They also 'unearthed' footage of Keys asking Jamie Redknapp about an unnamed female and inquiring of  young, embarrassed Jamie whether he would 'smash it'.
How romantic.
I bet Mrs Keys can't wait for Valentine's Day and her annual 'smashing' at the hairy hands of her drooling, neanderthal Sir Galahad.

When Sky say that they have 'discovered', 'unearthed', 'brought to light' and 'uncovered' these amazing examples of sexism, what they mean is 'paid for and ignored for twenty years'.

Also, this week the Coalition Government's chief spin doctor and former Editor of the News Of The World, Andy Coulson, resigned from his second job in as many years over allegations that he was aware that some of his employees bugged a number of high-profile people's phones to get Exclusive! stories (i.e., available in every other newspaper and magazine at the same time) for his piss-poor chip-wrapper, The News of The World.

The allegations go back four or five years and include a number of politicians, celebrities and members of the Royal household.


It's become like a National game of 'Guess Who?', only sometimes their faces have changed quite a bit since they were 'high-profile' enough to warrant a man parked outside their house in a van listening to spooling tapes of their daily routines.

'Ooh, Is that Leslie Ash? What is she doing back on telly?
Are they remaking The Dark Crystal?
But without the puppets?'


 
A lot of these people have started legal action against News International (including one Mr A Gray) and may be recompensed for their trouble. Or, perhaps, sacked if they make a stupid remark while working for them thus saving a million pounds a year. 
Possibly.

Anyway, all this secret bugging and off-air remarks-lark has made even more paranoid than usual. Jokey comments, off-air banter, silly remarks and so on are less likely to happen, which for the most part is a shame. In a news organisation you are confronted with some news horrible stories, as well as working alongside some petty-minded egotists hungry for spotlight and attention.
The 'gallows-humour' becomes part and parcel of every day life, it's just never - or very, very rarely - broadcast to the general public. Sometimes it is humour, however ill-thought out, that gets you over the hump of a terrible day.

I'm not condoning the likes of Coulson, Gray and Keys - far from it. It seemed obvious to me that laddy football commentators on a laddy channel will act like laddy wanking monkeys in a zoo as soon as someone in a skirt walks by, they like football for fuck's sake. They've no excuse. Nothing harrowing has happened in football since The Anfield Rap.


As for Andy Coulson, I'm not saying he DID what he is accused of, I'm just saying I wouldn't be surprised if he did do it.

He worked at the News of The World and then with the Tories!!
Unless you are like Andy DuFresne in The Shawshank Redemption you simply cannot wade through that much shit without it affecting your mental state.

What's he going to do for a hat-trick?
Oversee Gary Glitter's return into mainstream showbiz?


Now, obviously it is absolutely appalling that a national newspaper should, if indeed they have, used these underhand tactics in order to bring us the kind of odious 'news stories'.

Surely it costs millions of pounds to hack a telephone or set up a whole sports network in order to trap these people making silly, hurtful remarks.

The Newspapers can simply read the badly-sourced, ill-written articles or hate-filled columns of their star journalists, such as Richard 'Hell In A Handcart' Littlejohn, Jan 'Gays Are Not Normal' Moir or Jon 'Gaunty' Gaunt, that they print every week, and get as much homophobia, sexism and racism as they like.


After all, they have already paid for them.


So, Newspapers, go get yer knickers on, make me a cup of tea, stop talking about celebrities and football and TELL ME SOME FUCKING NEWS!!!




25.1.11

MISTER WILLIAMS IS NEVER DISAPPOINTED


I'm becoming a pessimist.
Well, a pessimistic realist.

I don't like being pessimistic, it just seems to be the clearest and most reasonable default position to take up. I had tried being cautiously optimistic but it was a complete waste of time. I couldn't help noticing that all the other optimists around me were absolute fucking dicks.

Pessimists, true pessimists (and not those people who just seem to relish just being fucking miserable for the sake of it) like nothing better than being proved wrong.

We'd like to look at the glass and say 'That could do with topping-up, it IS half empty', and then be pleasantly surprised that someone who knows what they are doing is approaching to top it up.



Unfortunately, it's more likely that the approaching person doing the topping-up has never actually topped up a half-empty glass before, although they'd really embrace the opportunity to learn how to top-up a half empty glass as it looks like just like a half-full one, but it is still such a challenge and if there's one thing they like to do it is take themselves out of their 'comfort-zone' and try something they haven't tried before, 'carpe diem' - 'seize the day' as it says on Dead Poets Society, although I haven't seen the film, but I love Chris O'Donnell films don't you... and before you know it the enthusiastic optimist who is no good at topping-up half empty glasses, but does have a lovely, cheery disposition, has knocked it over and fully-emptied the glass into your lap and you now look like you've done a big wee.

And you just KNEW that was going to happen.


Pessimists, unlike optimists, seem to be better informed about things. Optimists are like born-again Christians. They don't need facts. They just KNOW everything is going to be alright, despite having not a single, solitary shred of evidence to back this up. Their cheery, bubbly outgoing nature makes you want to punch them in the fucking throat.

The thing I hate about confident optimists is their ability to convince others, usually in a position of influence, that they know what they are doing. I have seen so many bounding, grinning, puppy dog idiots swindle themselves jobs and positions at the cost of pragmatic, pessimistic, realists who know exactly what they are doing.

It's like the story of the tortoise and the hare in reverse.
The older, wiser, reliable, sensible tortoise has had the decision taken away from them because the referee liked the confident, cheery nature of the big-eyed, useless, lazy hare.

The Tortoise & The Cunt

"We'll inform the hare of his promotion once he's woke up. Until then, Tortoise, can you do a double-shift?"


Managers and bosses love confident, optimistic people, mainly because you don't have to explain anything to them. Well, you do. You have to explain their basic job to them. Repeatedly. But you can just draft in a pessimistic old-hand to do that. No, managers and bosses don't have to explain THEMSELVES to the optimistic, they just make an arbitrary decision claim that it's for the good of everyone (despite it being the total opposite of that) and the cheery, grinning, vacuous optimists will do your job for you.

Sit back and enjoy the pay rise.



Optimists have been the bane of my life as they are the fuckers who always think it is acceptable to point out that my face looks miserable. "Cheer up!" they say, "It might never happen!"

If there's a sentence that is GUARANTEED to make a pessimist absolutely fucking furious it is "Cheer up. It might never happen". For two very good reasons

 a) 'might' implies that it is not a certainty that 'it' will NOT happen. There is still a very good chance that 'it' WILL happen. You are providing no data to contradict my expectation that not only will 'it' happen, but are also suggesting that I am passively resigned to accepting that 'it' will happen and that there is nothing I can do about 'it'. You are suggesting that my face is without hope.

and
b) I don't know who you are so FUCK OFF.

All that takes too long for the average optimist to process so I usually just say, "My Grandfather's dead."

It has the desired effect of them taking their stupid, pink-scrubbed faces for a shit and isn't technically a lie.
I just don't specify how recently I've become Grandfatherless.

The Government likes optimists, although given the evidence you'd think that they were trying their damnedest to wipe them out. Each time a cut is made in public services or a multi-millionaire benefactor is handed the keys to the health service or the chance to expand their media empire without pesky regulations, the Government likes to point out what a bonus this is for all of us.

"Let sunshine rule the day!" they chirrup.
 

Yes. What a fabulous new opportunity it is for everyone to only see a doctor if you've collected enough Nectar points, and what a real challenge it will be in the future to watch, listen or read something that is independent, well-written, well-produced, independent and credible.

Those of us that knew that the ConDem alliance would be an absolute fucking nightmare were told by the optimistic that we should give them a chance. Well, we have. They've managed to serve their own interests, decimate public life, raise unemployment, raise VAT and instill fear.

Never underestimate the supreme levels of confidence, optimism and flagrant bullshittery or politicians, managers, bosses or advertisers.

There is a magazine in Leeds that is the epitome of optimism over reality. It is a glossy monthly magazine called Absolute Leeds that is basically a series of glossy advertisements held together with a few advertorials. The first optimistic thing about Absolute Leeds is that it has a cover price, although most of the small boutique shops that are featured within its pages provide free copies.

 

Pick up any issue of Absolute Leeds and you will be as convinced as the short-sighted council who run the city that Leeds is a thriving retail mecca, populated with beautiful supermodels who, when they are not luxuriating in their loft apartments, are patronising exclusive wine bars and exquisite restaurants.

It's the kind of magazine that aspirational half-wits read in the hairdressers, scanning through the various articles about scarves until they find the photos of the brasserie opening they attended and the picture of themselves pouting whilst holding a cocktail with one hand and flashing a V-For-Victory/Girl Power sign at the photographer.

This vision of Leeds has been bandied around since Harvey Nichols opened their tacky, gaudy bauble of a department store on Briggate. If you're not aware of Harvey Nichols just try to imagine what Louie Spence would be like if he was a shop.



And if you don't know who Louie Spence is, I envy you.
I really fucking do.

He's exactly the kind of prick I'm talking about.

The big, glass-fronted affront to good taste has apparently 'revolutionised' the city centre. For too many years the pretentious, self-deluded, self-tanned, mojito-drinking, credit-card juggling Sex In The City wannabes had nowhere to ostentatiously parade their bad taste. But now they can enjoy twenty quids-worth of scones in the forecourt of a shopping centre or drink over-priced cocktails near some shoes they have read about in Tatler. Hoorah for progress!

Because HN came to town and bought a fabulous old building at a knock-down price, Leeds has rechristened itself as the Knightsbridge of The North.

Barcelona with Tetleys.



The reality is that most of Leeds city centre is NOT like Harvey Nicks. One quick walk around the Market or The Headrow will dispel that little myth.

It is full of pound shops, discount shops, cheap supermarkets, trainer shops, pasty shops and rough pubs.

Joseph Cowin's photo "The Chav Dilemma"

In fact, just around the corner from Harvey Nicks, in both directions, are The Three Legs, The Vine, The General Eliott and The Regent - all of which I wouldn't dare step inside without a serious drinking problem and a celebratory Borstal tattoo of Raoul Moat punching an immigrant. If you've not been in any of those establishments, look at a picture of a 19th Century Gin Shop by Charles Dickens' favourite illustrator George Cruikshank...

Breakfast time at The Three Legs.

Now imagine there's a TV in the background with horse-racing on.

These pubs, and the shops, and the steps of the Gala Bingo where everyone smokes like they are being fucking sponsored, are as much a part of Leeds as the boutiques and brasseries in the pages of Absolute Leeds, but the failure to acknowledge their existence makes a mockery of the reality of Leeds life.

There's no shame in being pessimistic and realistic. The reality is that there has always been and will always be less Harvey Nicks bags and more JJB Sports bags on show around town.

There's no point in throwing glitter at a turd and saying it is a crown.
Be pragmatic and realistic.
TELL us if something is shit, then have a plan to make it better.

Don't employ grinning enthusiastic idiots to tell us to "Cheer up, it might never happen" - because it IS happening.

Right in front of your stupid, unblinking, optimistic face.





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20.1.11

THE CURSE OF THE BIG COMEDY FONT

Hello Film Fans!

If you are ever passing a cinema and see a film advertisement using a big, bold, colourful fun-font ...

RUN. LIKE. FUCK.




It will be as funny as a cancer-baby and there's a fair chance that it will probably star Jack Black, Jim Carey, Adam Sandler, The Wayans Brothers, Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy or, if the budget is tight, Cuba Gooding Jr.


Oh, and while we're on about it, don't listen to Winkelman. This lot are a right pile of old cock too.


Thanks for listening.

An Audience with Barry Norman