No Way Fam

It’s often tempting to peer back into the mists and wonder what our ancestors would make of us now.

I wonder what Agincourt’s Henry V would have made of the British Army’s bold new ‘Belonging’ campaign, where it’s made clear the forces are happy to take on even the spongiest cupcake because literally anyone can be a human shield in the age of equality. “What if I get emotional?” asks one potential recruit in the ad campaign. “The king received an axe blow to the head, which knocked off a piece of the crown that formed part of his helmet”, says Wikipedia. Score draw.

Back then it was turnip for dinner. Now it’s ‘elevated toast’, and you have to take a picture of it or it’s not really there. Back then, frostbite was a blessing as it took the edge off the gangrene. Now, the NHS is bankrupted by people taking colds to A&E. Back then, grooming involved the local hag hacking your locks off with the same rusty knife she used to bone poor Uncle Jacob when the typhoid finally won out over the dysentery.

Now, people inject animal fat into their lips.

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Witty but woebegone

Woody Allen rant

If 2016 was the year of celebrity deaths, 2017 was surely the annum of celebrity downfalls.

Sparked by the toppling of one of Hollywood’s most prolific alleged sex pests Harvey Weinstein, an entire balustrade of power-wielding, pussy-grabbing men has come tumbling down in recent months; Kevin Spacey, Louis CK and Brett Ratner head up a very lengthy list. Of course, the most powerful man on the planet has had many a finger pointed in his orange direction, but so far, to no avail…as has another wormy, smarmy, self-obsessed star.

For some bizarre reason, Woody Allen is still being allowed to make movies. Every fucking year. Despite having been openly accused of kiddy fiddling by his own adopted kiddy, and then going on to marry another adopted kiddy, the man still is given free rein to populate our cinemas with inane, pseudo-intellectual babble about himself, his ego and his unquenchable libido. Hell, Allen has even come out in support of the unanimously maligned Weinstein, causing chip-off-the-old-block Donny Trump Jnr to wade into these murkiest of waters and slam the weedy, wordy, whiny comic. When The Donald’s spawn is providing the voice of reason, you know you’re headed up thon creek without thon paddle.

Now, these allegations against Allen are of course highly disturbing, and shouldn’t be trivialised or swept under the carpet. But there is a case to be made for the idea that the personal life of an artist shouldn’t interfere in the appreciation of their artistry. Throughout history, genius scumbags have gotten off scot-free with their scumbaggery precisely because they were capable of rising above it in their professional life. Caravaggio was a do-badder of the highest order, Picasso reputedly bullied and battered the fairer sex and Michael Jackson’s status as the King of Pop was briefly compromised by his inability to stay away from the royal play pen. Despite this, all three are hailed as prodigies and virtuosos – and they’re by no means the only ones. Hindsight in particular has a habit of encouraging us to look past a man’s faults and assess his creative output apart.

Applying that dictum to Allen, we can shelve the (unproven) allegations about inappropriately touching his seven-year-old foster daughter Dylan and the (very much proven) allegations about inappropriately cheating on his partner with her latest adoptee Soon-Yi and inappropriately marrying said adoptee at a later date. Put the philandering and paedophiliac accusations aside, and assess the man’s art with the cold, analytical eye of a movie lover…and the point still stands. How the fuck is this man still being allowed to make movies?

For one thing, he has a serious hard-on for the Big Apple. Sure, no problem; New York is a vibrant city, who wouldn’t love to live there? The thing is, Woody does live there – and he won’t fucking shut up about it. He has 77 writing credits and almost as many directorial credits on IMDb, and the vast majority of those are set in or around the iconic US city. Sure, he had a brief spell over the last decade where he tried to branch out with stories set in major European metropoles like Barcelona, Paris and Rome – but he’s returned to his old stomping ground of late. There’s a new movie in the pipeline for 2018, too. Of course there fucking is. Guess what it’s called. A Rainy Day in New York. Shock horror.

Indeed, that title could even be a microcosm for the career of this cringe-inducing cynical upstart with a preoccupation for all things sexual, especially if it involves far prettier and far younger things than himself. Allen never tires of casting himself in the lead role as a witty but woebegone writer/actor/comic/megalomaniac who is irresistible to the most beautiful ladies Hollywood has to offer. Without doubt, he’ll include more than one wrangling, hand-wringing monologue on the foibles and frustrations of modern life, pretending to address hard-hitting philosophical questions but really just showing off his ability to construct a wordy shell of a joke without a substantial punchline of an interior. What’s more, nasal kvetching about the injustice of life rings more than a little hollow when it’s delivered inside the grandest of New York apartments, which more often than not feature a grand piano or a chaise longue. If things were really that bad, Woody, you’d have put an end to them long ago. A bullet to the head would be infinitely more effective in curbing your woes than squeezing pithy, cynical one-liners out of them.

Yet for all his repetition and irritation, the man is still revered as one of America’s finest directors. He regularly reels in all manner of A-list glitz and glamour to tart up his dreary cinematic turds. How can this happen? How can the flesh-and-blood incarnation of Arty Ziff continue to thrive in the 21st century? Weinsteingate is an opportunity to still Allen’s “busy hands” once and for all, yet his unabating ability to crank out filmic faecal matter by the wheelbarrowload just demonstrates that even the current epoch of scandal and censure isn’t enough to topple this wiry-haired weasel off his perch.

With new stories emerging every day, there’s still time for him to come unstuck – and let’s hope he duly does. If not for his victims, at least for future generations of cinemagoers. For God’s sake, won’t somebody please think of the children?

Grit and flair

At last count, the population of Venezuela was 32,157,182. I’ve taken this from a site that claims to have ‘live’ statistics, as bespectacled men roam South American hospitals impatiently tapping pens against clipboards to the sound of perineal tearing.

That’s a lot of people. Think of the huge range of talents there must be. Massive potential for growth and betterment. Imagine what a country that size could achieve if it made the most of its latent expertise.

Today, Nicolas Maduro has declared he’s the only one out of the lot of them with the stature and smarts to lead his country beyond its next election. As a result, he’s banned opposition parties from standing. All of them. Anyone who’s not him.

He’s a man in power. And if you think we’re giving that up any time soon you’ve a rude one coming.

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The bend

I recently learnt to drive. I’m 28, I should have learnt sooner, but I didn’t, deal with it.

I have now been driving for two months. Plenty of time to establish just how many bellends there are on the road. In those two months, I’ve encountered countless fucking idiots who deserve a Darwin Award for their incredible driving ability.

Let’s start with the cunt that nearly hit me twice in the same car park on the same day.

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Entangled in Elstree

The round involved a board of photos of famous people as they had looked in the 1980s. Big hair, moustaches, Gary Lineker looking the same. And very clearly Steven Spielberg. It couldn’t have been anyone but Spielberg.

Up steps Steve, a civil servant from Poole in a shirt that the geese have been at. Steve used to be a national level trampoline gymnast. Tell us Steve: who’s the chap with the beard?

“I’ll go with…Jeremy Beadle?”

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Of course a dragon

It’s official – Game of Thrones is the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread.

It has more blood and guts than American Horror Story, more familial rivalries than The Sopranos and more zombie legions than The Walking Dead. It has more flashes of sideboob than Eurotrash and such a fondness for our favourite word it might as well be called Game of Cunts.

It’s also high time to put it out of its misery.

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Here’s looking at me, kid

Sometime in the late 70s I remember watching Alien at a West End cinema. A space crew receives a distress call, and as they sit down to eat their no doubt well-earned grub they’re unexpectedly joined by a testy little monster bursting out of John Hurt’s chest.

The shit really rains down when the Facehuggers show up. Prising them off someone’s face just delays the inevitable and the only sensible solution, as Ripley so eloquently put it, was to the nuke the shit out of planet LV-426, just to be sure, and by Alien version 2, 4 or 81 they did. The Weyland-Yutani Corporation’s ‘perfect creation’ was lost.

Only it wasn’t, at least not to Earth. Facehuggers are everywhere. Digital Facehuggers.

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One ping, Vasili

In the spirit of diversity and the love-in that is the current state of the post-Brexit British Isles, this is a mixed bag of angry observations. A bit like the bags of mixed sweets you used to be able to buy in the old days, but with added hemlock.

By my calendar, well on my phone thingy anyway, summer ends at midnight on the 20th of September each year. Really? My garden is already littered with all manner of autumnal detritus, including the usual high-end selection of cat turds. My heating has been on for the last week. Oh, and before I forget, my partner and I are enjoying our cosy winter evenings by the fire, dreaming of the day when the kids, no, young adults, will finally stop being self-centred fuckwits so that we can bugger off to Spain.

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Far beyond Toad Hall

It’s hard to explain just what I felt when I saw her.

She was incredible. Standing there on the Northern line like she hadn’t just rocked my world. It hit me like lightning, a tidal wave and a right hook rolled into one. I reeled a little, regained my balance, tried to pass it off like the driver must have hit a jumper coming into Goodge Street. They were maybe the strongest feelings I’ve ever felt for another human being.

Because when I saw her standing there, reading ‘Moomin and the Moonlight Adventure’, it’s possible I’ve never been so angry.

Continue reading Far beyond Toad Hall