Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Actually Not Mea Culpa

... a New Year's Reflection on the Difficulty of Throwing Things Away ...

Nearly 2009, and the Christmas Holidays make me reflect anew on the difficulty I have with property management. Don't get me wrong, I like property. As somebody who slept a lot on the floors of others more provident than myself, who lived without heating and who was down to my minimum weight when financially unequal to eating enough food to keep anywhere above it, I am partial to the security of a roof over my head, to heating and to eating (particularly, I have realised, to pink and yellow food, of which more anon). Until recently, I owned a car, and I was pretty partial to that, as well. Sadly, some of the unpropertied who live nearby were partial to pissing on my wealth and status and now I don't have one any more.

I don't do very well, you will notice, at maintaining my property. I have a constant struggle to keep up with the washing up. I have a losing struggle to keep up with the gardening. And I have a Fucking Rout going on on my ass concerning the paper. There's this hole in my front door which rains paper. Catalogues, free papers, free magazines, things that fall out of free papers, updates from charitable concerns that I give to, updates from charitable concerns that feel I should give to them, demands from charitable concerns that I give to that I should give them more, demands from weird sects that have got my name from the charitable concerns who reward my donations with attempts to piss me off more than you would imagine humanly possible, and - most off-pissingly of all - suggestions that I might like 42 new credit cards (though happily there have been significantly fewer of these of late). Picture me unable to reach my front door for the drifts of rubbishy paper that swirls and eddies round the porch under the Hole In The Door, obscuring the lovingly tiled floor and needing to be disposed of.

At this point, enter the government - never good news. Because they say that getting rid of it is not somebody else's responsibility, but mine. And it cannot go off to landfill in a plastic binbag, oh no; it must be lovingly packed into mighty stack- parcels tied with string and put out for the recycling men.

Well, why? When did the possible end of the world become down to me? I didn't ask for it, I didn't want it, and I don't want to deal with it. I have enough shit to deal with what with earning enough to pay my council tax and getting up at 5am to help the police push my stolen car back up the hill so forensics can fail to find out who took it. I have lessons to prepare and a garden to neglect. I don't need the guilt and I can't find the fucking string; why does it have to make me feel so bad?

You know the answers to these questions, Mrs Crosspatch, you are thinking, and indeed I do. I have to, because nobody else will. But what I wonder about is, why does nobody try to make the litter-generators deal with their own mess, while the government - local and national - is perfectly happy to hound ME about dealing with it? Goodness - couldn't be one rule for the corporations and one for the Little People, could it?

AND AS FOR SAINSBURY'S ... well, if their values make them different, why don't they JUST STOP making and giving plastic bags. They could just switch to charging 1p a bag and USE PAPER ONES - like the US and like Sainsbury's themselves used to. Long ago, in the days when the world and I were still young. Goodness me, it's the hard life being the Only One Who Knows Best. Happy New Year.

Monday, 22 December 2008

'Tis the season ...

... to complain bitterly and without rest about the quality of TV and particularly the wickedness of phone-in shows. And so to Strictly Come Dancing. A Big Row is in train (so say) because Tom Chambers won, in spite of the fact that he wasn't the best dancer. And we say, SO WHAT?

This series of Strictly was particularly galling. In the early days, it was pleasingly naff, and the dial-up dosh used to go to Sport Aid. Now it's all got glitteringly commercial, the dancing is taken with deadly - and for a tv show, fatal - seriousness, and it has lost its Blue Peter charm.

This year there was SO MUCH NONSENSE about the dancing pig, as John Sergeant was called. He could not dance. The list of contestants who couldn't dance has been mighty, and frequently distinguished; Julian Clary couldn't, all of Holby City couldn't, all of ITV Breakfast TV couldn't. And we chortled and hooted and voted. That's how it works. This year the Fear Of The Public got so bad that the press and judges hounded somebody out, and I think this was very sad. The crapness of some of the dancers is as much part of the show as the goodness of others. Do you suppose Shakespeare spent his writing days bemoaning how he had to write slapstick dialogue for base, crude woodworkers, when all he wanted to pen was the poetry of the sublime? How one hopes not. Getting your knickers knotted over the dancing in Strictly is ignoring its pull as drama. Give us the low comedy and give it to us in sequins.

More to the point, Strictly is a fine opportunity for the public to award its favours to those it, well, favours. Did Tom Chambers win because he was more popular than the other finalists? No, he won because in the event, he had the best show dance, which actually has been the desideratum in every series so far. He got into the last two because of his popularity. And why? Because the judges had systematically kept in Lisa Snowdon week after week while the public tried desperately to kick her out. Why? Because Lisa lacks the same degree of mass appeal. She is plainly popular enough to be a model and a radio presenter - or in other words, to have successfully dodged a real hard day's work for a crap day's pay at any point in her life - but is she as popular as him? No, she's not, and why should she be? When did it get so wrong for the public to like somebody better than somebody else? Lisa Snowdon lacks Chambers' warmth, and in competition, personality is as important as dancing.

To boot, Lisa Snowdon's preservation put out two other people I enjoyed watching; Austin Healy and Cherie Lunghi. And Rachel looks lovely and dances divinely - but that's all. And who cares how well somebody does the waltz? I watch for the tangos and the American Smooths. And the Really Crap Dancing, and the sweet, patient, and funny. Stick this in your dancing preciousness pipe and smoke it.