That US Presidency Thing

Mr President, Copyright me, Chris Pink. I’m expecting this image to be stolen by someone, and if it isn’t, I may even be a little disappointed

From the other day:

It seems I’ve become a political dork. I’ve been reading and researching about the upcoming US Elections too much. I know this to be fact because last night, I dreamed I was an entirely unique version of the current US President (so unique, in fact, that I didn’t have a name or a face – I may even have lacked a discernible body to be honest – and for some reason this gave me a kind of mystery and edge which people seemed to like). It was terrifying, actually. But what was much more terrifying was my opponent – none other than imaginary republican presidential candidate Bill “The mule” Borat. Bill was an outrageous and formidable opponent, but first and foremost he had one superpower that I could not compete with or even begin to work out: at any given time, whenever the hell he wanted, usually when we were both in a heated presidential debate on national TV and I needed to keep my cool and not be distracted, he could transform into a mule. That’s right: a mule. The worrying thing wasn’t so much that he could transform into a mule at will – although I admit that I was very jealous for several decades, this being a long and very drawn-out dream – it was more that he was offering to give rides to the US general public for £5 each, on national TV or not (I should have become suspicious that it was £5 and not $5, but there you go, I was at the dream’s mercy). My God he was devious…he was giving them rides so they would like him more and vote for his stupid mule face, of course – why…the sneak, the downright villain! Bill Borat was one tough enemy alright. It seemed impossible that I could compete with his malevolent tactics, even if I could consume raw potatoes with ease (something which for some bizarre reason held a lot of importance and prestige within the confines of my dream).

Like I said, the dream was drawn-out, and things were about to go from bad to horrendous. Towards what felt like the end of it, when I was quite unsurprisingly starting to get really sick of eating raw potatoes, I realised, once and for all, that no matter what I did, I couldn’t win against Bill “The mule” Borat. In fact, I was in such a sorry mental condition that I ended up going for 2 rides on his back just to try and ease the pain a bit. Fortunately, being a mule at the time, Bill “The mule” Borat didn’t gloat or mock me. He didn’t even give me a bumpy ride, which was sensitive of him. Still though, it was hideous and unspeakably tragic. I also had paper-thin jeans on, which meant that within just a minute of the first ride I had terrible blisters on the insides of my thighs (I couldn’t get off and put some proper trousers on because a) this would make me look weak and pathetic and b) Bill “The mule” Borat would charge me again as this was considered a new ride. I was rich but I wasn’t having that).

How scary…I dreamed all this and yet I am a trillion-miles away – actually, no, I’m an incalculable distance away – from ever being the US President. Not to mention, fortunately for me, eating raw potatoes/going for a ride on a mule and getting terrible thigh blisters. And if I’m dreaming weird things like this right now, what the hell might it be like if I was really doing it? If I was actually Obama? I dread to think, yet think I still do…

Time for my Jerry Springer sentence, but don’t worry, it’s just a sentence: we watch the news and read about what’s happening and we think we know it all, don’t we? At least I sometimes do, and I definitely know a few people who do. But recently it has come to my attention that, yes, indeed, I have not a clue what it might be like to be the current US President. Firstly, I was not brought-up in a remotely religious manner, secondly I’ve never even set foot in the United States, and thirdly, I couldn’t be less black or mixed-race if I tried, so me trying to inhabit the mind of Barrack Obama is a difficult and ultimately almost pointless affair. Add to that only a basic understanding of politics — compared to some of my friends, who know much more — and a less-than-comprehensive knowledge of US history and the chances of me actually being able to assmiliate all the necessary information to make a solid conclusion about it all is highly compromised. It’s almost certainly impossible, actually. And here’s the really scary thing: even if I could somehow quickly gain enough information to call myself some kind of expert, I still wouldn’t really understand the finer implications of Obama or Romney winning the new Presidency — to do that I’d have to slog through hundreds, if not thousands of pages of papers, archives, statistics and news footage. While it’s possible for all of us to form an opinion and be reasonably sure about what we believe, the real issue is that when it comes to working out what’s best for the US for the next few years and how things will really play out should either candidate win, only the experts have a grasp of the minutiae of it all. In my opinion, many of us are just speculating, trying to make sense of what information we have been given, much of which has been massively manipulated to lead us in a certain direction. In other words, we see what we want to see and at the end of it, we can’t win.

Actually, that turned out to be a Jerry Springer paragraph. Apologies.

Another important consideration is chance and how huge a part that plays in every-day life for all of us. Some people believe that we hold more or less all the power to manipulate our choices and environment. That everything is mainly within our control. But I’ve never really believed that. Chance can come along and make a mockery of everything you know to be true, and where the US Presidency is concerned, chance is likely to play a huge part for whomever wins it and what they’re able to accomplish (or destroy…). For example, what if Obama wins and, one day, he accidentally kills a deer while out joy-riding one night (he’s joy-riding because he’s fed-up with security following him around and also his wife has been nagging him again, which nobody ever reads about in the papers, which only makes him feel worse and more alone, again…). One of his security, catching-up with him – Obama was doing nearly 200mph so it took a while – sees the deer lying on the floor and breaks down. Mentally, I mean, because he’s a massive deer lover. This makes Obama extremely angry, but it’s fine because he’s all alone in the middle of nowhere and he can feel safe in the knowledge that nobody will ever see what’s about to happen. He can do more or less whatever he pleases. Except chance has other ideas. Sadly for Obama, a photographer was hiding in the bushes all along, and out he jumps now, snapping a picture of Obama kicking the security guy right in the face and also simultaneously right in the bollocks with his other foot (Obama is proud of this cool new trick which he’s been perfecting for a while with the help of an ageing Steven Seagal). Not cool for Obama, as chance has it that the papers the next day show the US President as a face-kicking, needs-anger-management-FAST type of a person. In a matter of hours, he’s viewed as violent and dangerous for anyone with testicles and a love of animals. In a matter of days, nobody likes Obama any more, and deer lovers are at the front of the angry queue (although Obama’s stunt has resulted in a mass increase in the number of box’s sold, which manufacturers of plastic genital protection kits are very happy about).

Or it could be Romney. Chance is equally cruel to everyone, even smooth-talking republicans who are almost as rich as some small countries. If Romney gets in then he could be having a bath one day when he decides that he’d quite like to get out and shave all his genital pubic hair off (he hasn’t discussed this with any of his Mormon friends, as they would not approve). Except just at the moment Romney is doing this with a straight-razor, his big stupid clumsy dog comes bounding through the door, smashing it open, with Romney slipping and accidentally slicing his own penis off in the process — woops! Predictably, the dog then grabs hold of the severed member, mistaking it for a rather pale sausage, and runs out of the house feeling really quite pleased with himself, wanting to show it off to all his doggyfriends. Romney follows, spurting blood all over the place, and the second he makes it outside and is inches away from the dog, a photographer takes a picture, the opportunistic bastard-of-a-git: it shows Romney naked chasing a dog, bleeding to death and looking more than a bit incompetent. Not to mention incontinent. That’s quite a serious fuck-up, even for someone who has made more of those in the past few months than probably all of the other US presidential hopefuls in US history combined, perhaps (although the madness of the move does result in Romney, sans penis, being offered a part in a Halloween horror movie with a similar plot. It doesn’t bring his penis back to life, of course, but it does at least give him something to focus on while the new fake penis is being modelled and created and readied to be sewn back on).

But let’s not get bogged-down in Romney accidentally slicing his own penis off and Obama’s obsession with Steven Seagal which ended in big problems. We haven’t even talked about the pressure of being on the campaign-trail yet, let alone being in-power. It’s easy to say how useless both the president and Romney have been at various recent times, but to consider being on the campaign-trail as an easy thing would be naïve. Actually, it’s be downright dumb. First you have the intense lack of sleep while travelling the length and breadth of the country, then you have the paralysing issue of having to think constantly, every second, about what’s coming or about to come out of your mouth. Put one word in the wrong place and it could lead to not one but several or more problems further down the line. Questions you don’t want to answer, issues you don’t want to deal with, and people you definitely don’t want to face. All that and we haven’t even discussed the fact that while all this is happening, you’re trying to hold down a marriage, be a father, reassure everyone in America that you’re the man for the job and avoid looking at everything negative that is being written about you (which if you are the one who sliced his own penis off by accident, might be a lot…). It’s one hell of a task. I’m definitely glad that I don’t have to deal with it and you should be, too.

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“I can’t, Homeland’s on!”

Friend or foe?

In ten minutes or so, the next gripping episode of Homeland is on. Actually, it’s a bit pointless me writing that now that it’s been on for a few minutes, but still, I wanted to give this post some context. Anyway, now that I’ve done a terrible job of doing just that, here are a few things I cannot do when Homeland is on. You also may not be able to do them while Homeland is on. And if you can do these things then frankly, well, you’re a bit weird and you can’t be a real fan. In the nicest possible way though. Probably. It’s hard for me to say, not having a clue who you are and everything.

1: answer questions

Don’t ask me a question of any kind when Homeland is on — or in the several minutes leading up to it when I am preparing my snacks — because I’m not going to be able to answer it/them. Some are multi-taskers. I am not. If you ask me “Chris, what’s your favourite food?” and I am watching Homeland, I might say “Swede!” or “Horse!” and I’d be wrong on both counts. I may have eaten horse every so often – I’m sorry to tell you that you probably have too if you eat meat and aren’t always discerning about it… – but I really hate swede. I have no idea why I’d say swede but there you go, I did say I couldn’t answer questions, so you should’ve expected that.

2: walk in a straight line

Because I am trying to keep my eyes on the screen to see what Carrie and Brody are up to, I always walk into things. It’s inevitable. Sometimes, during Homeland, I’m sure I feel the ground shake a bit, and I wonder if this is the combined force of people all over the UK bumping into things. As a result, I have coined it “The Homeland Effect”.

3: I can’t eat properly

It’s because I am so focussed on watching the TV.

4: I can’t sleep

That’s obvious. Not that I would want to sleep while Homeland is on. I think I would have to be drugged for this to happen. Actually, I don’t want to think about it. I should never have brought it up.

5: I can’t come to the phone

Even if another lover of Homeland was calling me, because they were really excited and couldn’t bear to be watching it on their own, I still couldn’t come to the phone. Frankly, it troubles me to think that I might know someone who would even contemplate taking me away from my compulsive Homeland viewing, but alas, it may well be true…

News Review: Jimmy Saville, South Africa, Fruit Bats & Mines Going Missing…

Silvio Berlusconi, either thinking about avoiding tax or taking a break from avoiding tax

Brace yourself…

Be sitting down.

And do not have your bum exposed (I’m not sure why you would…but still, I had to say it).

Right now, the BBC is a lot like a man begrudgingly performing his own Colonoscopy while the entire nation watches on (and re-watches on, thanks to iPlayer): it’s uncomfortable viewing, with nasty sounds at times, but addictive all the same. And right now it’s not going very well at all, really. Mainly because no man should ever be allowed to perform his own Colonoscopy, even if he does have four arms, and particularly when he cannot be trusted to do it well because he doesn’t really want to be doing it (and who can blame him?!). It’s the head of the probing utensil thing – no, I’m not a doctor, you can Google it – you see. It keeps getting stuck and filthy-political-muck, for want of a better expression, keeps spewing out. Ugh. Oh dear. It’s time to call the experts in…

Fascinating as this is, that doesn’t mean that we should only be watching the man performing his own protracted, acutely-observed Colonoscopy, of course. Since the Jimmy Saville scandal exploded, loads of other things have been going on in the big wide world, such as the following (we’ll go back to the BBCs political Colonoscopy after these things, and for the squeamish I will even stop referring to anal probing, how about that?):

 Belusconi faces jail term. Possibly. Actually probably not, let’s be honest

The man Italian Prime Minister who some say is as naturally predisposed to committing crime as battered-fish is to being eaten with chips, has literally just been convicted of being a very naughty boy indeed where money is concerned. Tax-fraud, to be specific, and tax-fraud on a colossal scale – a bit like what might have happened if Del Boy had been born in Italy instead of Peckham, which almost doesn’t bear thinking about. Think of Berlusconi as a giant squid swimming around in a pool of goldfish (in this scenario, the goldfish represent every-day people who accidentally-on-purpose forget to declare a few hundred quid on their tax-return). Of course, being a naturally gifted liar and deceiver with many years worth of successful theatrical cheating under his belt, not to mention numerous other scandals which are too many and detailed to mention here, Berlusconi – the man who caused outrage in 2009 when he somehow ended up naked on top of an under-age prostitute, as you do – has said he will appeal against the verdict (not predictable at all), which originally saw him pinned with a 4-year-jail-term and was soon-after reduced to 1-year. However, Silvio wasn’t the only one who’d been a bit of a rascal. Frank Agrama the Hollywood producer also got his bottom smacked for adding things up wrong, although his bum is going to be red for a little longer, as he was given a 3-year-jail-term for similar charges. He also has the embarrassment of not having a pizza named after him, which I should think is awful if you come from Hollywood. Before he somehow ended up naked on top of an under-age prostitute, Berlusconi was immortalized forever in Finland with Pizza Berlusconi – a pizza topped with smoked reindeer, no less, which won 1st Prize at the 2008 New York Pizza Show, if you were wondering (I know you weren’t, but still). A fact almost as interesting as this one: when stretched out fully, the wing-span of an Indonesian fruit-bat is the exact same height as facially-savaged film-star Sylvester Stallone. Crazy!

Hurricane Sandy might remind you of Grease, but actually it’s not at all entertaining

Presently making its sinister way to Massachusetts in the USA, this month’s unwelcome natural monstrosity is expected to arrive late tomorrow night, according to the National Weather Service and it’s meteorologist Bill Simpson. Here’s a quick lesson on how rubbish hurricanes are: hurricanes are tropical storms on a massive scale which are a serious bitch. Some reseachers even believe that hypercanes — super-hurricanes formed by a huge surge of heat — may have been the reason the dinosaurs were wiped-out. Sometimes reaching wind-speeds in excess of 160-miles-per-hour and dumping a whopping 2.4 million gallon of rain every single day, when a hurricane strikes, you do not want to be in the area. In the northern part of the Indian Ocean you can call this a cyclone, and if you happen to be extremely unlucky and be in the western Pacific Ocean at the time one arrives, you can call it a typhoon. Either way, it’s no laughing matter.

Even worse, the delightfully-named Sandy is a rather unpleasant Category 1 affair. That means wind-speeds of up to 95-miles per hour. It may not sound too bad, in the grand scheme of things – and it’s certainly not as bad as a Category 5 behemoth with wind-speeds exceeding 155-miles-per-hour – but it’s still a serious arse when your in its path (Hurricane Katrina was a Category 5, with damages for Louisiana said to be somewhere in the region of $91 billion…). That means something along the lines of 14,239,724 people in the New England area are currently preparing for a really bad situation, the range and scope of which is difficult to predict, even using modern technology. The winds may be merely 65-miles-per-hour, but, in fact, that doesn’t mean the potential for damage is much less than a faster-moving hurricane – according to experts, above 65-miles-per-hour and you’re facing a slew of similar problems, none of which are easily avoided. The storm is also wide, adding more weight to the threat, and ensuring that mass power-shortages are likely to be the order of the day, causing bedlam and wreaking havoc. Give a thought to the people out there.

Over in South Africa, things are far from calm…

Never far from the headlines, Johannesburg, where a gigantic science-fiction space-ship hovered over in alien-fest District 9, is where it’s all been going on over the past few days. Well, not all, not nearly all in South Africa terms, but at least some. And some on this occasion means that Anglo American Platinum have agreed to – or been forced to, as the case may more likely be – reinstate an awful lot of workers who were naughty this month and decided to stage illegal strikes, which was a whole ‘nother story in itself, and not exactly a pretty one. 12,000 workers now have their old jobs back, which is much better than being fired at with rubber bullets (as was happening in Rustenberg at the same time, see below). Not that I can say that for sure – everything I know about mining I saw on Zoolander, and most of the time it was bad. But then, he was really good looking, and a model, so…

Located in the North West province — we’re talking real-life now, not Zoolander — trouble kicked-off with a bang when police opened fire on loads of angry Amplats – the name given to Anglo American Platinum workers – near the Olympic Stadium. Their reason? Bone-headedly stupid as you’d expect, of course: to block another rally from taking place, which they had had quite enough of already. No word on any injuries yet – to my knowledge – although the internet is a large place, so I could well be wrong. One more thing: it’s worth noting that at the strikes’ peak, some 16% of the country’s entire mining workforce was pissed-off enough to make a collective stand. Beginning outside Johannesburg in the platinum belts, something along the lines of 80,000 miners stood up to the authorities, before strikes spread to neighbouring gold and iron mines.

 Anti-tank-mines stolen in mysterious circumstances but don’t worry, there’s

probably nothing to worry about…agh…

Tanks sound like fun, don’t they? They do to me, and thanks to lots of in-depth conversations with my granddad, I’ve been fortunate enough to learn many things about tanks and what it’s actually like to really be in one. Right now, from the comfort of my home, I’m imagining me going about in a tank. And it’s anything but boring in here, don’t worry. In the corner I have tea and coffee-making facilities, and in the back I’ve got a hole in the floor should I need to do some business in a hurry (although I will need to wait until I have no enemy following me, as I don’t want to leave tell-tale signs…).

Except, as I turn a corner, something is wrong. Over the radio – I’m not exactly sure what kind of radio I am using, as Granddad never covered that specifically – a terrified soldier colleague is saying stuff I don’t want to hear: “some anti-tank-mines have been stolen!” he is saying, and again like I said before, it’s exactly what I don’t want to hear.

In a fantasy situation, the arrival of such news is worrying enough, but in reality it’s really bad news, as you might expect. This is exactly the case, too, because according to The Guardian, anti-terrorism police are investigating the theft of the outrageously dangerous things as we speak. Or as you read this, really. And not just one anti-tank-mine, either…10 packages were nicked by thieves in Warrington, near Liverpool. Packages containing mines used by British troops out in Afghanistan. Shit…

If you love tanks and are now trembling with fear, or even if you don’t and just live in Cheshire and are trembling in fear, then there is some good news, so don’t worry too much: according to the North West Counter Terrorism Unit, they don’t believe the theft has anything to do with the kind of Jihad which Mitt Romney and others are obsessed with going on about all the time. In fact, they’re as safe as a box of chocolates or a packet of Haribo – providing that they are not at all tampered with. Great that this news has been broadcast to the world and likely seen by the thieves, then. Let’s hope they’re not hell-bent on causing any damage and not the type to get excited when you say DON’T PRESS THE RED BUTTON!

Have some information about this? Maybe you stole the mines and have realised that you have no space for them in the living room, or that they are not IKEA furniture, as you first imagined? Typical, eh? You steal something hoping it’s some IKEA furniture and it turns out to be secret MOD anti-tank-mines! I don’t know. Well, whatever the case, it’s advisable to call police on 0161 856 1027 or, if you prefer, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. By the way, I just read that 7 were found discarded somewhere near a railway in Liverpool, so it’s actually just 3 packages that are yet to be found. Each has four plastic cases inside, by the way, so if you are scratching your head about why your package has 9 plastic cases inside, don’t panic, they’re probably just anti-tank-mines from another dangerously inept government agency department.

More about that Colonoscopy…

Going back to the subject of Jimmy Saville again, the question everyone seems to have is Who else was involved in the Jimmy Saville scandal? Sadly, I don’t have the answer to that particular question (actually that’s a good thing…if I did then you’d have to ask how the hell I got them). Instead, I thought I’d make some predictions about what’s about to happen next:

1: Within the next few days, more names are going to come out. And that may prove to be just the beginning…I also predict that compared to the coming revelations, the Saville scandal so far may end up looking feeble. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see someone known as being very innocent being accused, along with legions of victims coming forward with allegations against many more TV celebrities and stars.

2: The BBC will agree to pay a massive amount of compensation to the victims, as well as to 1 or more sexual abuse charities, as it’s way of saying Woops, we fucked up! How the former might work is anyone’s guess, as I’m assuming it may take a long time for the claims to be verified. If that’s even possible. Which I doubt it is or will be for all the hundreds of cases. Hence why I said If that’s even possible. But you know that, it’s not as if you’re thick.

3: Other victims of abuse to come forward with claims against recently deceased and long-deceased stars, musicians, TV celebrities and political figures, creating a dangerous precedent (Michael Jackson springs to mind…). I can take absolutely no credit for this prediction, as it was made by someone called Rich in a comment about 1 of the recent blog posts on this site. Thanks to Rich for that.

4: Moving swiftly on to more sinister things, could there be video-footage or pictures out there of Jimmy Saville either at a party on his way to being horrific or…coming back from engaging in something disturbing and nasty? (Notice how I deliberately ignored the possibility sitting horribly in the middle of the two.) Logic says yes, almost certainly, but I know one thing: if there is then I for one do not want to see it.

5: The BBCs report, as promised by man-at-the-centre-of-things George Entwistle, will be late and inconclusive and largely pathetic, with few significant revelations that compromise anyone at the BBC. Not that it taking ages is a bad thing, of course. The longer it takes them, the more information they should, we hope, be able to assimilate. As people keep rightly pointing out, this is about the victims of the abuse and victims of abuse in general. Not people covering their own arses.

6: There might be protests outside the BBC.

7: Books capitalising on all this will start to appear. Books from the victims, books from people who knew Jimmy Saville, and books from staff who worked at places were Saville is alleged to have abused. In fact, my guess is that the publishing machine has already started.

8: There’ll be a documentary film charting Jimmy Saville’s seedy past, chronicling his life and concluding with the Newsnight debacle.

The BBC & ‘Sir’ Jimmy Saville: One Enormous Fan And A Massive Pile Of Stinking S…

Note: it’s late, so this will contain inconsistencies which may or may not be fixed. How’s that for honesty? Note two: don’t get used to it…

If I was in a position of responsibility at the BBC right now and of the age where I remembered Jimmy Saville during the peak of his career, I’d be shitting myself (need to catch-up on the story so far? Do so here). If I had anything to do with the Newsnight show which never aired, which formed the nucleus that the rest of this evening’s BBC bloodbath centred around, I’d already be packing my bags. Not that I’d feel too bad about it. In fact, I’d be proud. Watching BBC journalist Liz MacKean gutsily speak out about her role in the shelved-show was the best thing about the entire thing. As for almost everyone else who appeared, I largely hope they’re ashamed of themselves, but somehow, considering all the lies and the vague and deliberate weak answering of questions, I doubt they have that capacity. Now they’ve had the rug pulled out from under them, it feels a lot like the wolves are moving in.

In the hours and minutes leading up to the intriguing BBC 1 expose What The BBC Knew: A Panorama Special, I was as dubious about an authentic investigation as I could be. Like everyone else in the country, I’d heard all the rumours, and like everyone else, I couldn’t begin to imagine that this programme, produced by and for the BBC, would be anything but biased. And, as far as I can tell, I was largely right, although not entirely. Yet in another way, tonight’s show was a televisual first for me (hardly surprising, I know, being a youthful 32). On the surface we had a documentary that seemed to go in for the kill in an almost unprecidented way, telling it straight, but look a little deeper and things got confusing fast in perfect mirror image. The resulting debacle may have gone some way to reveal how Saville was allowed to go about his sordid business for so many years — that abuse now seems a certainty, even if much entirely solid evidence never surfaces — but at the same time, it’s also presented one hell of a lot of further questions. I look forward to next Monday, when I feel safe in predicting that I’ll be watching Panorama: An Investigation Into What the BBC Knew: A Panorama Special.

For anyone who missed the show, let’s do a re-cap (and don’t worry – this won’t ruin thh show for you. In fact, it may aid your viewing and iron a few things out. There’s a lot to get our heads around)…

It began with the basic arguable facts of all this, with many of them familiar, having been reported excessively in the last few weeks: firstly, that over 200 people have now come forward to claim they are victims, and secondly that this, according to one senior BBC individual, is the worst crisis at the BBC in 50 years. So the worst crisis in BBC history, then, really, if we’re being honest (don’t read too much into that). Next up, we had various BBC employees, past and present, saying how they were uneasy and not happy with what they had heard about Saville, followed by the beginnings of the Newsnight programme which would ultimately be shelved and elaborately – but conversely quite boringly – lied-about on a grand scale. This was where Karin Ward came in. Then aged 14 and suffering from cancer, she confessed to Newsnight reporters and researchers in November last year of some very grizzly goings-on in Saville’s dressing room. The viewing was compulsive, sickening and completely absorbing, as Karin spoke of other girls who had been abused by Gary Glitter, too.

It was around then that the tone changed…subtle to begin with, then more obvious. And the tone said this: something had always been wrong at the BBC and many people knew about it and nobody was really able to deny it anymore. If Monday morning was bad today, then Tuesday is looking one hell of a lot worse for numerous high-up people. The staff canteen is likely to not be the place to be.

By now, the show had covered the general grasp of the claims in enough detail that it was extremely difficult to believe that Jimmy Saville had ever been anything but one of the planet’s most enthusiastic sex-pests. The tone then darkened some more — yes, really — as it was revealed that just at the time the controversy was beginning to mount, the BBC decided it would be a really good idea to do an ode to Jim ‘L’ Fix it in 2011, attracting some 5 million people. Not only that but a radio eulogy and 3 more television tributes, too…because, why not? Except it turned out that the BBC had had far better ideas. Namely all of them, even the really really shit ones.

From that point on it was a surprising/incredible character assasination on a monumental level, with an impressive range of awful BBC attributes being pointed out: first the BBC were made out to have turned a blind eye to years of Saville’s abuse, with the revelation – you can cough now – that there was, du-du…another side of him. Next in line it was revealed by a very open and honest Paul Gambaccini that he believed the BBC was now in the hands of a much younger, Saville-oblivious generation, and that here-in lied a place of blame. This turned out to be the beginning of a massive game of blame somebody else quick! with so many different fingers pointed during the rest of the show that, at one time, I almost hoped that loads of mums would descend on the show, hellbent on sorting it out.

Fortunately, even though the BBC can’t contain a conspiracy for love nor money, they can make a riveting programme about their own imminent demise.

The next part of the story concerned ITV and how they ran an Exposure programme on October 3rd 2012 which used the same information gathered from the aborted BBC Newsnight programme. Headed by a private investigator, I didn’t watch it, but I suspect it covers almost everything I am writing about here. Great reporting, right?

Poor George Entwistle. He was up next in this feast of savage bollocking, announcing 2 enquiries concerning Saville: one general one and one about how the hell this Newsnight debacle ever came about and was allegedly dropped for editorial reasons (er…there’s a good chance it wasn’t. Or it was. I lose track).

Duncroft was to feature heavily in the next part of this story. A home for intelligent, emotionally disturbed young women, it came across as a strange and weird place – mainly because it was called this several times, as we didn’t see much actual footage from there – where Saville and his nastyness were frequent visitors. If all the claims can be believed, which you have to think they surely nearly all can.

Here, now, the documentary had me transfixed. Previously convinced it was to be a big pile of carefully-woven nonsense, I had been intending to switch over to Channel 5 at 11:15pm to watch Vacancy starring Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson, as I had heard it was average-to-quite-average and had always before managed to somehow miss it. Thing is…when that time came, it turned out I couldn’t bring myself to do so. Much as I am a fan of crap unoriginal horror tripe (films) and I could watch this later on iPlayer, it occurred to me that this may not be the case this time. If the BBC went down, iPlayer would surely be a gonna, too. That alone was a huge worry.

I paused on that thought, sad for a while, and then I got over it and moved on. I would always have 4OD.

Deep into this mess now and with no turning back — think Titanic nancy director’s The Abyss, when they go off the cliff, shit! — the people on TV now were on about how they had found multiple girls who had been abused at Duncroft, before it quickly moved onto Jimmy Saville and how he had been suspected of abuse in the 50s and 60s and loads and loads of people had known about it but done precisely nothing for reasons which, obviously, only made sense if you’d had several parts of your brain expertly removed. It was only at this point, for me, having been born in 1980, that I really understood – or believed I did – how powerful and famous a clearly seedy individual Jimmy Saville was. But then, why should anyone at the BBC have suspected? It wasn’t like there were many really obvious clues.

That was a joke, of course.

Oh…how there WERE clues. Many thousands of them. Literally everywhere, like a reverse game of Where’s Wally where you’d be sick of Wally’s face because it was bloody everywhere. It was then, amusingly, that a number of key ancient one-time-but-now-conveniently-retired-and-absent-minded BBC top figures appeared on-screen covering their elderly arses in every way you could possibly imagine. Excuses ranged from the poor/feeble (“I didn’t report it because I didn’t think it would be believed,”) to the inexcusable and utterly reprehensible (Derek Chinnery, previous Controller of the BBC, saying how there was no real proof so he didn’t see reason to quiz Saville further. Almost believable…until you took into account that he had asked Jimmy Saville about his behaviour and Saville had denied it. Which surely would have been the point when anyone in their right sensible mind, let alone a fat controller, would have said, “now look here Jimmy, are you lying to me? Because it seems like you very much fucking are! I mean, I have about a hundred people with eyes and faces and brains saying you’re a massive pervert…so come on, let’s have this out, shall we?”).

If it had been bad before, there was much, much worse to come. The run-down:

1: Old men cover their arses some more with varied success. Success used lightly.

2: How the BBC bought into Saville’s sexually suggestive style to increase viewing figures — call me a cynic but I choose to believe that this was no accident — including awful footage of the man himself fondling young girls on TV, in front of millions of people. Ugh.

3: More ashamed old men who had probably poured more emotion out over spilled milk. And I do mean that literally. In fact, it’s just a shame they didn’t do this on the documentary, so that we could have seen a genuine comparison.

4: Karin Ward, again — prepare yourself — saying how, in Saville’s dressing room, boys and girls were only there to be used. The inevitable mention of Gary Glitter, who was a regular guest on Clunk Click, which was offensive enough by name, let alone the abuse going on behind-the-scenes.

5: How Saville raised as much as £40 for charity. Sorry, add a million to that. He didn’t just do a fun-run and get a few mates to sponsor him. Jimmy Saville was ridiculous.

6: Saville’s work at Broadmoor…and how this work involved him randomely putting his hands between young girls’ legs without even looking at their faces.

7: How, despite the BBCs claims, many reports were made about the man but no action was ever taken. Yes, we are going round in circles, only this one has been battered into the shape of an egg, warped as it is with all the contradictions.

8: Me wondering Could this actually be the end of the BBC? And morning the iPlayer again.

9: About how not all the victims were girls. Saville abused young boys, too, and was, if the evidence is dependable, involved in a BBC paedophile ring. Yes, you did just read what you thought you read.

10: How, in 1972, he was awarded an OBE. Oh, the torturous shambolic shame…

11: Jim ‘L’ Fix It and how it took off massively with as many as 20 million viewers, making This Is Your Life look moderately successful by comparison (it was mega successful).

12: A boy called Kevin. Now an adult, he spoke with his wide back to camera about how, as a boy scout — we saw footage of him as a boy scout — he had been told by Saville that to get a badge of his own he would need to do…things to him, which he did. Such as rub his penis. Very nasty, bad TV that will remain with many of us for a very long time, I imagine. Saville also touched him and hearing that was pretty horrible.

After all that, watching an expose by The One Show about why goldfinches are dying is going to be more than a bit boring.

Hungry for more and riveted by the fascinating spectacle of watching the BBC rip itself apart from the inside-out as if possessed by some evil intellectual monster, I was now finding myself watching a former producer of Jim ‘L’ Fix It on TV saying how he felt he never had reason to do anything and hadn’t heard any rumours. Convenient sprang to mind. But it wasn’t just me who thought it was crap all round. More BBC employees came out of the wood-work and started saying how he’d hoodwinked everyone…with Paul Gambaccini leading the honesty brigade by saying how Saville had various police forces, the NHS and the entire BBC under his spell. Along with the crap hairdresser who did his wispy cotton-wool-hair, who I wouldn’t be surprised if he or she has already been shot.

Moving outside and away from the BBC, for once, we were now told that in the real-world, where actual people see things and think normal conclusions such as That man is probably really abusing countless young girls and boys people were doing precisely that. Here, a few seconds were devoted to BBC director Kevin Marsh bringing out the much-trusted “others shared responsibility too, including the press” dig, that, believe it or not, I had seen coming and you might have, too.

Cue Saville on camera addressing the concerns of people like Louis Theroux by lying his massive white face off, and saying that if he was going down then he would bring others with him. The words of an innocent man, then…

It now seems highly unlikely.

The rest is history, and you can watch the debacle unfurl again and again if iPlayer still works later today, and tomorrow. The basic idea, if you can’t be arsed/iPlayer goes down permanently, is that the Newsnight team had the go-ahead to do a thing on Saville as a massive paedophile and then suddenly didn’t because of emails that may or may not have been sent and lied about, etc. You’ll lose track. Other aspects of the disaster included one half of the BBC preparing to do odes about him for Christmas 2011, and the other half believing that if they had all this info then the right thing, now the man was dead, would be to do a documentary — see what I mean about going round in egg-shaped circles? Peter Rippon, Newsnight Boss, was at the heart of it, you see, and he’s now gone because of it. He hadn’t watched any of the footage concerning Karin Ward, and suggested that for editorial reasons, the Newsnight show should not go ahead…

Too. Many. Eggs.

But the saddest thing for me about all this was the worrying wave of opinion that seemed to suggest that because Saville is now dead, the story is, essentially, over. In producing this documentary, I suppose the BBC hoped they might be able to brainwash a few million people into believing that they were doing the decent thing once and for all. Except it didn’t come across like that, really, or it did — the brainwashing, I mean. In a world where abuse of any kind should be the critical discussion over anything else surrounding it, millions of people have, instead, just watched a show about how the BBC forgot what it actually means to be a human with feelings. And remember: George Entwistle had only been in the job a month when he had this massive pile of horse manure piled on top of him. He may not have handled it as well as he could have done — he handled it CRAP — but be under no illusion: there are plenty of people still living out there who have a hell of a lot more to answer for.

Fake London Tube Stickers

Fake London Tube Stickers is my brand-new, complete, 100%, rip-off project. The moment I saw a certain BBC story about guerilla stickers on the London Underground network I was captivated and wanted to create some of my own — ideas, that is, just for fun. It’s not like I’d actually endorse people doing it for real*. I hadn’t seen them myself, but I loved what they stood for and the amount of creativity you could have with a relatively short, formal message. Besides that, I enjoy my freelance writing work, but I sometimes spend a lot of time sitting and waiting for emails to come in, and so it made sense to create a blog to record my ideas to pass the time. Click the link if you’re interested in taking a look. They keep me amused.

* as I said before, neither this blog or me, the author of FLTS, endorses or encourages the real-life creation of such guerrilla stickers, or the illegal placement of them. So if you’re a government official, you can stop sniffing about.

Jimmy Saville: Undiscovered Creep

The void that Jimmy Saville left behind…

Note: the opinions expressed below are my own, based on what I have read and seen and presently understand. I’m not a child-abuse expert, lawyer or psychologist, and I don’t claim everything I say to be 100% right. In some cases, I may well be wrong. Either way, I’m interested to hear what other people think.

A comment that poet/author Benjamin Zephaniah made on Newsnight the other day is still irritating me, and I wish it wasn’t. I’ve always liked Zeph’s endearing casual attitude (we’re not on first-name terms by the way, I just like calling him Zeph). Much like his wild explosion of Jack-in-a-box hair – a white-middle-class assault in itself – I’ve always felt that his signature, outspoken, not-arsed-what-you-think attitude is a welcome addition to any debate where an ounce of common-sense and rationality is required. But to say, like he did, that he’d always known that there was something a bit wrong with Jimmy Saville? I understand what he’s getting at, but I’m not sure what to think about that. Well actually I am slightly sure, as it would have been pretty pointless beginning this blog post with no idea, but what I am more is conflicted. Disappointed, too. The man has always struck me as open-minded, yet I struggle with this idea that someone could have always known. Let’s be clear on this: excluding the possibility of mysticism and some omnipotent power, nobody can know something without being privy to indisputable evidence and information. Otherwise, it’s a lucky guess. What Zeph is really saying, I suspect, is that looking back at Jimmy Saville now, with all this new information coming to light — some of which actually isn’t that new, and has conveniently been ignored by much of the media up until now — he’s not at all surprised that Saville was doing the things that some people claim he has done. And Zeph’s got a point, of course. That much is certain. When you think about it, everything about Jimmy Saville looks a bit dodgy now…such as the following things which I’ve randomly chosen to state here:

1: Everything about his appearance – the gold chains, the crazed hair, the worrying obsession with track-suits and cigars (the last two being a highly flammable combination, before you even take into account the kindling-quality of the wispy white hair).

2: His immense, almost inhumanely vast dedication to raising money for charity.

Now, you might think me stupid, but years ago, I never thought there was anything that dodgy about Jimmy Saville (I’m well aware that this might cause a wave of disbelief to rise up in you. It’s actually doing the same thing to me right now. Let’s both take a few minutes to get a handle on ourselves). I thought he was a bit weird, odd-looking, alien-like and eerily unable to keep his mouth shut for more than three-seconds at a time, but I never remember thinking that he could be some kind of sex-abuse monster who preyed on innocent teenagers and children. My reasoning for this is extremely simple: at the time, like lots of children, I was a child – no shit. I was yet to see the double or sometimes triple-meaning in things, and when Saville first appeared on the screen I was a while away from working out what all this girl-fuss was all about. Which might explain something about Zeph’s remark. While Zeph was some 20 years older than me and almost certainly more than slightly intrigued about what all the girl-fuss was about – indeed, that may even be putting it lightly, I don’t know – I was clueless and prepubescent. Back then, I had no idea what girls found enticing about track-suits, and to be honest, now I’ve been through puberty and come out the other side, I still don’t.

Something else: before anyone gets their knickers in a right old twist, I’m not defending Jimmy Saville. Even more so, I’m not suggesting that these sex-abuse cases brought against the now-deceased Jimmy Saville are bullshit and that it wasn’t sex-abuse, it was just young girls being tempted by fame and money and now they’re much older, they’re cashing-in on it. What I am saying, though, is that it’s very hard for anyone to tell the difference if that is the case, which it very well might be. I’m no expert, but I think it’s fair to suggest that where money is involved, some people are willing to do and say almost anything in a bid to be able to buy the newest iPhone. The obvious problem, then, is working out who the genuine victims of all this are — and abuse crimes associated with other celebrities — compared to the teenagers that knew what they were doing and entered into some kind of sexual consent naturally (or as naturally as anyone could with Jimmy Saville…). Add this to the problem of how attitudes change over the years and you have all kinds of trouble. For example, some people may only now be realising that what happened to them was actually abuse. History is overflowing with cases where we look back in time and cast a dim view on sexual practice between adults and children, yet you hardly ever hear a historian saying how appalled they are. Mostly, if they’re Fiona Bruce, they just smile and say it was part of that period and it was OK back then. Which makes things murky. Very, very murky.

I remember a popular saying back when I was young. It was play the white man. It cropped-up every now and again, and at the time, with a very basic social compass and little life-experience, it seemed to make sense: act like the white man and you were good. There were very few ethnic minorities around when I was growing up, so this saying didn’t seem racist in any way, it seemed entirely fair and normal. Now I look back, I realise a few things I didn’t understand back then. One of them being that the people who said this didn’t believe they were really being racist – they just didn’t know any ethnic people and that knowledge bred an innate disliking based on instinct and falsehoods which they believed to be fact not open to debate. Racists were people who killed the blacks – but these people who said these sayings? They just didn’t really like the blacks and that was an entirely different thing. In some ways, I think hearing things like this did me a kind of favour. It slowly introduced me to the worrying fact that adults can be as ignorant as anyone, and that class and education doesn’t necessarily mean someone can have a broad and informed knowledge of the world around them. Even the smartest people are capable of thinking total bullshit, and, as in all cases, the smartest people are the most dangerous individuals of them all.

In my mind, one thing with the Saville – and other cases – is clear: years ago, like it or not, we as a society just didn’t think of abuse in the same way as we have come to now. Abuse of the most sordid kind was taken more seriously, but otherwise, it wasn’t always considered a big deal. Years ago, people were convinced that if you went out with wet hair, you were extremely likely to catch a bad cold or maybe even worse. In the same way, for a lot of people, child-abuse was something so grim that it just wasn’t talked about or discussed openly. In fact, some people probably questioned if it was even real, since paedophilia has long been classified as a mental illness and for a long time, the validity of mental illness has in itself been incredibly disputed, even amongst the so-called professionals. I get the feeling now that if I’d been an adult back then and my child had come to me and said his or her teacher had been touching them, I’d have been pissed-off. That would have been the first thing. But take it one step further…If they’d had the bravery to tell me how they had been raped by an exceedingly popular television presenter, I’d like to think that I’d have listened and really taken it in, but I can’t be sure I would have, can I? Especially if I mentioned it to a friend and they said, confirming my thoughts and bias, that the whole thing was ridiculous and my child was making it up. Some perverse charade. The very last thing I may have thought was that they were being brave in coming forward. The sad truth I don’t want to admit is that it’s more likely that I would have behaved in such a way. A way that horrifies me and goes against my better judgement. It’s disgusting to imagine yourself as acting in a way which might perceivably damage your child, maybe even irreversibly — this, on top of the initial legacy of already-inflicted damage — but in many ways it may also be essential. If you don’t accept it’s possible to be wrong then you’re ignoring the problem…the horrible truth that anyone can ignore despicable crimes if everything around them tells them not to believe what’s blatantly in front of their own bloody eyes.

For me, another massive problem with the reports that are circulating is that, unlike in many cases, where a case is put forward and then some months elapse until the case closes and the assimilated information is processed, the Saville case seems to have gone from 0 to 60 in less than 2 weeks. Firstly, very little detailed information about the girls has come about, enabling a frenzy of misdirected speculation. The media so far has largely presented these girls as vulnerable and young rather than young and prepubescent – one of the defining things which would make it paedophilia rather than straight-up abuse of power over a minor (by the time I post this that may well have changed as more information comes to light). Rape is, yet again, something which many people understand as one of several slightly different things, and now we have various papers making various claims, just to sell copies, just because they can. Additionally, when reports first surfaced, the now-deceased Jimmy Saville was accused of a broad spectrum of crimes but the accusations were cautionary and speculative at best. Yet in the last few days the tone and the language has changed and shifted, both in the papers and on the TV. The reports no longer speak of alleged crimes. Now, it’s all about crimes which definitely took place, as if a large number of people coming forward means that someone is guilty, irrelevant of the status of those claims, and whether or not the claims all contain similar characteristics which help prove them valid, or as close to valid as is possible. As that is (arguably) the case, I can’t help but think that several major investigations into Saville started many months or years ago and that what we’re seeing now is some kind of conclusion to a much bigger story that’s been hidden (some papers reported that investigations started years ago, although the validity of this is, quite rightly, something which needs to be questioned in itself). The thing is…if that’s the case, why are the BBC and other authorities reportedly investigating it only now? So many things just do not add up, and in too many instances, we’re treated like babbling, ignorant fools.

As for the truth ever really coming to light on who allowed the abuse to prosper and continue, I somehow doubt that it’ll ever happen. Personally, I can no longer trust any of the reports that come from the BBC or other sources, and I’m also finding all the latest news of people coming forward and admitting they knew something – yet didn’t do anything about it for alleged good reason – to be difficult to believe. It all seems like too many people covering their own arses now that society has finally dumbly realised/admitted what actually constitutes child-abuse — something which should, surely, have been really quite clear all along. The biggest shame, for some, is that we’re not advanced enough yet to dig Saville up, reanimate him and question the man ourselves, as some people would no doubt do in a minute while recording the whole sorry-thing on smartphones: a whole different moral and ethical debate in itself and one which I’m not convinced would even begin to untangle the whole confusing argument that currently shows no sign of slowing down.

The next installment of this story is here.

Could you leave Facebook?

Mark Zuckerberg — I dislocated my shoulder at the start of this week and drew this with my mouse-pad in about 1 minute. Can you tell?

It’s true: I know someone who was on Facebook, then decided to leave. Actually leave, as in, go for good and never come back, not just threaten to leave then…stay. This person was (and is) a very good friend of mine who’d been a member of the social networking site for a number of years. Someone with tons of photos on his page and a real history he was giving up. Lots of friends, offline and on, who he liked to stay in touch with. A man who worked – and works – in media, and who some hardcore Facebookers (I promised myself I wouldn’t use that stupid bastard word, but, sorry, it felt essential) might consider mentally unhinged for giving up the numerous connection opportunities that Facebook is so famous for. There was none of this I’m considering leaving Facebook or I would leave Facebook if I could crap, followed by the not doing it. He was fed-up with the way his life was spiralling more inward and digital each day, he decided to leave Facebook, and within hours it was done. That simple. Easy. I was shocked. For a long time, I’d accidentally search for his name on the site and his profile photo would come up, although it wouldn’t lead anywhere when I clicked on it (somehow I got through those dark times). Now, a year or two after he deactivated his account once and for all, he seems to have vanished forever off the network, no trace remaining, in a way that feels more or less like certain death. And that makes me smile, in a strange kind of a way, a bit like Ben Affleck at the end of Good Will Hunting, when it becomes clear that Will has finally left and gone on his way and he isn’t coming back, ah. I often think about doing exactly the same as my friend did. I smile and I think I could do it. Maybe I will. Leaving Facebook might feel almost the same as faking my own online death.

Except I know I probably couldn’t. I also know that I am not the only one.

I’m not going to lie: Facebook does make my life easier than it would be without it — but surely you know that, it makes your life about a hundred-times easier too. With Facebook as my guide, birthdays are easily remembered and when someone has a baby, I can share my congratulations on their Wall without ever needing to have written down in my diary that I’ll need to get in touch in 9-months-time or so. It’s also saved me about a five-thousand-pounds on sending cards in the post as well (not that I ever did that much). But there’s much more to it than just that, of course. I may not like it, but Facebook is now a part of my life in more ways than I will probably ever know or realise. If it was as easy as simply deciding to leave and doing it, I’m sure I would have done it before now. Except it’s not. There are consequences of leaving the site. There are knock-on effects. Things might happen and things might not happen. For one thing, if I left, I’d have nothing to kill my boredom with while waiting for clients to get back in touch, and for another, I’d lose a valuable way of getting news of my writing, books and blogs out into the world. Without Facebook’s public Wall settings, I’d still be able to put my stuff out there via Twitter and other social networking sites, but let’s be honest: it’d be a right pain in the arse and knowing me I wouldn’t bother. And besides all that, there’s the friend-thing. I like being able to see what my friends are up to whenever I like, and I like the way you can be on the train and seeing what’s going on out there instead of feeling angry about the increasing price of using the railway (see? Even my use of like has been affected!). I also like how easy it’s become to plan an evening out. Commenting on statuses is fun, too, and very often Facebook is the only reason why I find myself reading an interesting article, or keeping up with something on The Guardian which I may otherwise have missed. In other words, it’s complicated and it’s got me right by the balls…so complicated that it’ll be years until psychologists really understand and interpret the impact that Facebook presently has on our every-day lives (in plain English: just how much it’s got us by the balls).

Analysing all this now, then, seems almost pointless. I’m almost tempted to leave it to the GCSE or whatever-they’ll-be-called students of the future. Except I’ve started now, so I may as well finish.

Leaving all this? It’s not that simple, is it? I’m sure I could deal with the birthday thing – I could find them all out before I left, and using my new concept of organisation I’d even write them down so I could read the handwriting at a later date – and I’m certain I could find another way to use my time that would be much more productive, but what about…everything else? Can I really be bothered to find other ways of putting my work out there? Probably not, because here’s the really cruel thing: that would include signing-up to other social networking sites, which would basically un-do the good of leaving FB to begin with. The friends-thing is the last hurdle, and surprisingly, as I type this now, I find myself thinking that this actually isn’t the biggest issue I’d need to consider. After all, I do sometimes go out into the actual real world and do it the old-fashioned way. I do like commenting on statuses, but I’m sure I’d cope with not being able to, and I could definitely do without the endless events notifications from people I barely know and likely won’t ever speak to in real life, much less go to their events. The same goes for news stories. What time I’d regain in leaving Facebook, I could probably use to source all the news stories and interesting articles I would ever want or need. In so many ways, by leaving Facebook it’d be win-win.

So it comes down to this: it may not really be about being able to spread the word about my work and it may not actually be about the friends-thing after all. Instead, what it may be about is more unsettling: the fact that, like it or not, FB may have invaded my life to such a point now that nothing could make leaving the site an attractive or sensible thing to do. I could tell myself that the Timeline feature is a pain — it’s crap, I despise it — and I preferred it before, back when none of us realised the grip it had on us. I could remind myself that Facebook is harvesting all my personal information and that this, in the future, might end up in the wrong hands, but I’d only be inventing bullshit. Fact is, I’ve known since I created an account that Facebook were gathering my private data and getting high off it, like gangsters on mountains of cocaine. It’s nothing new, everything you ever sign-up to does that, and really, it wouldn’t make any difference if I left now anyway. That data would still have been copied. There’s virtually nothing I can do about that, and even if I could, what would be the point? Somehow, somewhere, a copy of that data would still exist.

Still, if my friend can do it, then I’m sure I could. OK, maybe not sure, but…

Hm. I think I’m going to need to think about this some more…