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WHAT’S EATING GILBERT & SULLIVAN
By Phil Thornton
Gilbert - Are You Experienced?
In the last decade, the concept of the ‘experiential’ has supposedly replaced the materialistic. It’s not just about salaries and possessions and all that 80s crap, it’s about swimming with killer whales off the Alaskan coast, cuddling up to baby orang-utans deep in the rainforest, circumnavigating the globe on a hot-air pedalo, pogo-sticking along the silk route wearing a deep sea divers suit and flying to fucking Jupiter on a magic bogroll.
If it’s not obscure TV presenters and sundry ‘celebs’ a weeping and a wailing n’ feeling ’privileged’ and ‘honoured’ to be cuddling up to endangered species (Claire Sweeney wants YOU to save the Tibetan Mountain Goat), it’s vacuous cunts like Charlie Boorman (who he?) and Ewan McGregor indulging themselves by patronising all manner of savages on their ’motorbike experience.’
Even mortgage companies now sell their products on the basis of this New Wage touchy feely aspirational consensus; hey, pay off your mortgage early and retire early to climb Kilimanjaro on a crocodile. But maybe we’ve gone too far. For instance the train driver on the Pendolino now bids us farewell at Lime Street with the following mumbled Tannoy message:
‘We hope you enjoyed your journey experience’
Since when did travelling on a cramped, smelly and late Inter City with self-important middle management gonks bleating loudly and boringly on their mobeys to Suzi from Human Resources whilst student Emo fuckwits chicken head along to hissing I-Pods become an ’experience.’ Euston to Lime Street isn’t an experience, it’s an ordeal and Runcorn (where I get on Branson’s fantastic ‘free ride’ scheme) to Lime Street certainly isn’t an experience, it’s Martin Kelner’s Screenbreak column or Shelleyvision and a quick flick through the sports pages of a discarded Metro.
No, the ‘experience packages’ you can buy in WH Smiths as Chrimmy boxes (balloon rides, laps around Silverstone, pamper sessions at health spas etc) and backpacking ‘year out’ tours encouraged by Rough Guide corporate hippies have convinced many oafs that they’re missing out on something, that they will become slightly less dull if they can boast about sharing peyote with a self-styled Aztec chief in some sanitised tourist theme park for gullible white collar wankers. It wont, they’ll still be the same boring twats they ever were and I should know, I am one!
Sullivan - Oo you are awful!
Why do journalists and writers insist on writing ‘fook’ instead of ‘fuck’ when attempting to convey the vocal inflection of a northern accent? Do they realise that when we northern thickoes see the word ‘fook’ we read it as ‘fook’ as in ‘mook’ not ‘fook’ as in ‘muck.’ And even though Cockneys say ‘fack’ as in ‘mac’ do they get ‘facking’ patronised by middle class journo ‘coonts?’ Do they fook!
Gilbert - I’m A Celebrity Nonce, Get Me Outa Here!
Let’s say me or you or that weird fellar next door who lives with his ma and always has his bedroom curtains shut was convicted of downloading horrific images of the sexual abuse of children. Now let’s say that me or you or that fellar at the baths who stays in the shallow end and pretends he can’t swim uses as our defence that we were ’researching’ child pornography for our own personal studies but foolishly forgot to inform anybody of this project. Let’s say me or you or that fellar who stands at the magazine rack in Smiths all day making grunting noises under his breath every time a schooly passes him gets stuck down for downloading horrific photographs of child porn.
What next for me, you and weirdo mystery paedo? I bet we wouldn’t get charges dropped or our sentence reduced on appeal. I bet we wouldn’t get forgiven and excused and rehabilitated and invited on telly programmes to explain ourselves by sympathetic fellow professional ’entertainers?’ Not if your name’s not Pete Townshend or Chris Langham.
Langham’s recent appearance on ‘Dr’ Pamela Connolly’s vomit-inducing quack-psychology show ’Shrink Rap’ (get it? ’rap’ with a ’shrink’ but not any old shrink, no one with a real certificate and stuff and like loads of celeb pals who want to ’open up maaaan’) only proved that, if you’ve got the right contacts, then any form of despicable behaviour that would consign lesser non-famous mortals to a lifetime of abuse and isolation, is excusable if you have pals in the right places.
Now maybe this is simple cynicism but I wonder if Langham took notice of Townshend’s defence tactic when he was arrested for accessing child porn sites as part of Operation Ore. When TV producers were following this operation the gulf between how ’normal paedos’ and ’celebrity paedos’ are treated was there for all to see. Whilst Mr Everyday Nonce was literally pounced upon at Heathrow after a trip to Thailand, the Met were all very pally with The Who legend, being all polite and calling him ’Pete.’
When it came to court Old Big Nose insisted he’d provided his credit card details and accessed kiddy porn sites because he was doing his own private research as part of a campaign to combat child pornography on the internet. Then he dropped the bombshell that ’he believed he’d been sexually abused between the ages of five and six and a half.’
Pete was the victim here see? He’s one of the ‘good guys.’ OK, he was foolish to download these images without informing any of his ‘co-campaigners’ but he was trying to do good. One thing’s for sure, he didn’t use those images for his own sexual gratification. No way, the very idea is abhorrent! The charges were dropped but Pete was placed on sexual offenders register, so that’s OK then.
Fast forward five years to the Langham case. Notice any similarities? Langham is found red-handed downloading video clips of girls as young as seven being abused and tortured but only did it to research for a new character for his BBC2 comedy Help! Indeed he had the gall to state that ‘if these girls had the courage to endure such abuse, the least he could do was have the ‘courage’ to watch it.‘ That takes some beating. Such a pity he never told his co-star Paul Whitehouse about this new character he was introducing or indeed of the fact that he’d be downloading kiddy porn as a research tool.
Then, when it reaches court, Langham drops the bombshell that he too had been sexually abused as a child, explaining to Dr Pam that he ’thinks’ he’d been penetrated anally by a man who had taken him on a sailing trip. Now I’m no expert but I think you’d remember being bummed in a tent by a big hairy arsed sailor. Presumably this man - Langham gave enough details - could be identified but is presumably now dead and in no position to confirm or deny the allegations.
Like Townshend, Langham had never revealed this childhood abuse to anyone before out of shame or it being ’suppressed.’ Now I’m in no position to say whether both men were indeed abused as children but using it as mitigating circumstances for downloading child porn is surely about as contemptible as it’s possible to get. I’m sure me, you or Mr Weirdo Paedo would receive short shrift from the bizzies, lawyers, screws, fellow cons and family members if we used this as an excuse for our actions. But Pammy Stephenson herself has a history of uncovering such hidden childhood abuse, as she proved with her husband and is therefore extremely sympathetic to such tales.
Again, maybe it’s just the bitter cynic in me that sees an ulterior motive for such confessions. Unable to accept the truth of their own behaviour maybe Townshend and Langham have convinced themselves of their motivations. Bafta nominated Langham enjoying the kind of success with The Thick Of It, that had always eluded him will always carry the stain of his brief imprisonment with him, but the rehabilitation process is underway and we’ll no doubt see him back on our screens soon enough, just as Pete Townshend has managed to carry on touring and making music without anyone yelling ’beast’ at him. Me, you and our beastly chum might not have been so lucky.
Sullivan - ANOK4U2?
I passed this student the other day and he was wearing two odd baseball boots; one green, the other red. On the back of his backpack was an Anarchy In The UK patch. That was his contribution to anarcho-syndicalism; wearing odd shoes! I once berated some students who were offended by May Day protestors placing a Mohican like sod on Churchill’s swede, that perhaps instead of smashing McDonald’s windows, the protestors ought to take a leaf out of the real anarchists’ handbook and go and blow up a few aristocrats and industrialists. The plazzy anarchist craze was undoubtedly initiated by the Pistols and their ‘Give a wrong time, stop a traffic line’ idea of anarchy in the UK. Oooh, while the Red Brigades are out there kidnapping, assassinating and bombing, the Pistols are changing bus timetables! Right On!! Anarchy became a stock-phrase to millions of kids in the late 70s, myself included.
Perhaps I’m being too hard on the odd-shoed anarchist because once upon a time I too displayed my own version of armchair anarchism. Inspired by Crass, I painted a huge Anarchy symbol on the back of my army jacket. Not much conversed with the political or philosophical aims of anarchy I once responded to my mate’s request for ’back-up’ at a pre-planned inter-school gang fight and turned up in said jacket, armed to the teeth with various homemade weapons. At the sight of this my mate’s school pal, a cheeky young scal called Bri henceforth called me ’Anarchy.’ Luckily for me, the rival school mob never showed and I went home to play Honey Bane’s ’Girl On The Run’ instead. So, maybe the next time I’m scoffing at some young, foolish display of teenage anarchism perhaps I’d better remember my own days as the tooled up ’Anarchy’ of the Old Town. Now, how do you hack into EasyJet’s flight schedules?
George - Oxymoron Time
Up on Hope Street, there’s a plaque outside a house bearing the inscription ‘The Liberal Catholic Society.’ This struck me as rather paradoxical, can one be a Liberal and also a Catholic? Can one be a Progressive Unionist, a Radical Conservative, a National Socialist or a Caring Capitalist? And this got me thinking who audit’s the National Audit Office? Who clears the snow at the snowplough depot? Do stylists have stylists and if not, what’s Gok Wan’s excuse?
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