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What’s Eating The Great Grape Ape?


By Phil Thornton 


Miranda Sawyer  

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t sour grapes (geddit?) but how did this two-bit former Face hack get to become one of the country’s leading ‘culture gurus?’ Either she’s got a great agent or there are hidden depths to the Cod-like genius. As a memoire of what it’s like growing up in suburban Wilmslow, her book ‘Park & Ride’ was possibly the best ever book written about growing up in suburban Wilmslow. How she went from post-Madchester ‘girl-with-bob-n’attitude’ to becoming one of the judges who selected Liverpool as capital of culture, Turner Prize judge, ‘voice of yoof’ representative on various TV and radio quizzes, panel and discussion shows however, is a mystery. It’s not as if she’s ever got anything original, interesting or even humorous to say about anything and was perhaps the single most unconvincing ‘intellectual’ on Late Review after Tony Parsons. In a world where Lauren ‘the thinking man’s Fearne Cotton’ Laverne has become some kind of ‘clever crumpet’ pin-up (in her interview with Dustin Hoffman the camera was on her face far more than Dustin’s) perhaps this is the best we can hope for; Prettily Vacant McCulture Show dimwits for a generation who’s idea of ‘art’ stretches all the way from Quentin Tarantino to the Klaxons.


Wesley Snipes  

Should’ve banged him up for ten years the tax-dodging cunt.  What is it with these actors, pop stars and multimillionaire business people who reckon they’re hard done by and that they should be exempt from paying their whack, same as every fucker else? Ofcourse in America, as here, the tax burden falls more heavily on those with lower incomes, who end up paying proportionately more than these tax-dodging, offshore account, never-stop-whining-I’ll-go-abroad-Swiss bank account cunts. The theory is that by giving the rich tax breaks denied to the likes of you and me, they will go onto create more wealth and eventually it will ‘trickle down’ to the benefit of everyone. Ofcourse this is complete bollocks used as a smokescreen to disguise obscenely rich fuckers looking after eachother’s interests.


This model of governmental non-interventionism and private philanthropy didn’t work in Victorian Britain and it doesn’t work today; that’s why we still have inner city and urban slums that should shame successive Labour and Tory governments. Political strategists covet the ‘centre-ground’ ie the vast swathe of non-aligned floating voters who decide elections so, as in America, we end up with two dominant parties with more or less the same political and social objectives. Policies aren’t designed to appeal to traditional party supporters who are taken for granted and who are in any case numerically small but to appease the ideologically bankrupt, apolitically selfish middle ground, who vote not out of principle but on what’s in their own narrow self-interest. Hence the recent ten pence tax scandal. Fuck the low paid because this will put more money in the pockets of people New Labour needs to keep onside for the next election.


On a larger scale the so-called ‘self-sustaining’ capitalist system has always been biased in favour of the needs of the city and its million pound bonus merchants. This is why the supposedly independent Bank of England can pump billions into the economy to shore up the mortgage market but can’t afford to bail out pension funds that have cheated thousands out of their life savings. This is why the US Federal Reserve can pump billions to bailing out incompetent and corrupt sub-prime lenders but can’t afford to implement state medical insurance for its poorest citizens. This is why Gordon Brown and his deformed minions go after ‘benefit fraudsters’


From Marvin Gaye ‘I can’t pay my…taxes’ to The Beatles, ‘one for you, nineteen for me’ from Ken Dodd to Lester Piggott, from Lewis Hamilton to The Queen, they all conspire to conceal their wealth and conspire with lawyers and crooks in order to avoid putting dough back into society.  This is why Wesley Snipes and his ilk make to wanna puke. The janitor and the factory worker, the office cleaner and the call centre clerk have to pay their taxes, so pay up and shut up you spoiled, self-centred, shameful shitheads.


Critics of Gavin & Stacey  

Some fuckwit Guardian hack complained that Coupling showed up G&S for the cosy rom-com that it is. Hey, not every comedy has to be a misanthropic, cynical slit-com y’know. Infact the contrast of G&S and Coupling programmed in succession on the rightly maligned BBC3 only highlighted the faults of the digital channel. Gavin & Stacey is produced by Baby Cow who have become almost a BBC comedy talent-scout subsidiary. The BBC Comedy Mafia were well represented in both programmes; faces from Little Britain, Catherine Tate Show, Rob Brydon’s Annually Retentive, Nighty Night featured heavily. As the recent Lucas and Walliams arse-lick fest confirmed, it’s so much easier to get your comedy off the ground if you’ve already got both feet firmly up Baby Cow’s/BBC’s big-fat arse.


Unlike most of Baby Cow’s output however, this wasn’t an ironic, smart-arse post-modern piss-take but an engagingly simple, well acted, well scripted traditional situation comedy. Fish out of water, chalk n’ cheese, opposites attract; it’s all been done a million times but what James Corden and Ruth Jones managed to pull off and the likes of Coupling fail to, is generating genuine warmth for the characters.


Like Nighty Night, Coupling deserves credit for presenting us with a range of utterly self-obsessed and loathsome individuals for whom we feel nothing but contempt or pity. In many respects, it’s a great comedy but it’s not like real life. It’s a highly exaggerated, somewhat cruel grotesque show full of fuck ups, failures and freaks. Nothing  wrong with that except….enough already! Chris Morris started this trend with Blue Jam and the League Of Gentleman and Julia Davies took comedy bleakness to new extremes. Laughs became dependent on horrific excesses of human behaviour and in this climate G&S came as a bit of a relief.


OK, it may have lapsed into sentiment and cliché now and then but at least it consisted of characters you could recognise and empathise with. Series two wasn’t really about Gavin and Stacey at all but the show’s writers; Smithy and Nessa. As with The Office, US channels have now come sniffing around which only reaffirms the show’s universal appeal; no doubt the American version will see a brash New Yorker hook up with a hillbilly hick or a Californian stoner with a Mid-West puritan. No matter, Gavin & Stacey deserves its place as one of the stand-out comedies of recent years because of and not despite the fact that Ruth Jones doesn’t get to shovel a sperm riddled pie dinner into a hysterical hairdresser’s vagina.       



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