Posts Tagged ‘Pantomime’
Reality TV is what keeps many of us going. We tune in to the X Factor, Big Brother, Strictly Come Dancing et al and enjoy the phoney world of pantomime villain judges, heart-broken and often humiliated losers, and the posing stars whose only real committment is to their egos and wallets. But any boost we gain from such superficiality is quickly dispelled by the seemingly endless revelations about the economy, the corrupt behaviour of the tax authorities and what Vince Cable described yesterday as “the source of systematic instability, unfettered greed and industrial tax-dodging” of Osborne’s friends in the City. And many gain little cheer from a Christmas which will gobble up any meagre reserves they have.
In any case, most reality TV provides little long-term cheer for deep down we know that it is as phoney as televised wrestling. But suddenly we see the beast in a different light. We codgers began to watch ‘The Choir’ in our usual cynical mood but that soon changed. Gareth Malone arrived at the Royal Marine Barracks in Chivenor intent on using music as means of bringing together the partners of men serving in Afghanistan. The various women he met were living in their own private hells, with very little communication with others in like situation.
After a great deal of persuasion a large number agreed to form a choir and things escalated from there. Now they live as a sharing community bound together by a united pressure to perform and to provide their own contribution to a war that threatens every family. “We feel like sisters now, helping each other out”, was the way one of those who had never sung before put it. Under the direction of Malone they sang in the nearby town, at Sandhurst, at the Albert Hall and now have released a single for Christmas based on letters received from partners in mortal danger. Unlike its rival festive release the proceeds are for charity, the purpose purely one of shared prayers.
Yes, it was reality TV but there was none of the mockery and cruelty of other shows. The choirmaster never tells anyone they cannot sing, there are no losers and no prizes except that of a sense of camaraderie and communal connectedness, a prize everyone wins. The likelihood is that even Malone would never have dreamed that things would turn out so well. But he does have a burning commitment to the belief that music is the food of love, one that everyone can partake of.
We have all become so understandably cynical about just about everyone in this so-called celebrity age that inevitably there are those who say that Gareth Malone has performed well but has also done well. But to attribute to him a touch of the Bruce Forsyth is to misunderstand the man. When in an earlier series he went to South Oxley he persuaded young men who previously thought they could do nothing with aplomb but drink, and turned them into a tenor section. He persuaded women with a low sense of self worth that they could form a choir to be proud of and he united the desolate town behind their choir. What is not generally known is that, after the cameras had gone, he stayed on unpaid for another 18 months to ensure that the seedling became a full-blown flower.
It is truly his Christmas gift to us. Despite what we thought there is at least one star that cares for something other than money. People have lined up to say that he has changed their lives, he has proved that music is not the sole property of fuddy-duddy madrigal singers from middle-class Surbiton.
The boy ‘done good’. The military wives are modest stars. The nation suddenly realises that behind every soldier lies a personal story. We are all enriched at the proof positive that just sometimes what glitters really is gold!
TEST YOURSELF WITH THIS MIDWEEK QUIZ!!!!
1. 1. After what sort of activity might you suffer ‘the bends’? 2. What would you buy from Stanley Gibbons? 3. What colour are house in Monopoly? 4. What shape is a Sumo wrestling ring? 5. Which Hindu system of philosophy is used as a means of exercise and meditation in the West? 6. In which game do you score “one for his knob”? 7. The Fastnet race is part of the contest for which cup? 8. Which game’s name comes from a piece of its equipment looking like a Bishop’s crozier? 9. At which station do you arrive in Paris if you have travelled from the UK by Eurostar? 10. The YOC is the junior branch of which organisation?
There is a heaven and we are in it! How else can one react to such a beautiful day to greet the start of the County cricket season, an occasion usually celebrated in dressing-rooms with rain, snow, or bad light guaranteeing no game but Whist. The multitude of hens seemed subdued, perhaps puzzled by the strange light in the sky. But not everyone was in good humour, as the children headed down the lane for school we could hear high-pitched voices raised in one of those ‘it’s all your fault’ arguments. Who does that remind you of, someone asked. Who? The politicians of course, was the answer.
I’m not sure who said it but it’s a fair bet that they watched last night’s Question Time on the Beeb. The main argument there centered around the NHS reforms and the lay members of the panel made interesting points. But the various ministers were, er, pathetic. A smart young blade in a posh suit called Hunt explained the Lansley plan away by claiming that Labour would have done the same. “Oh no we wouldn’t” yelled the Labour lady, whose name has slipped my memory. I found myself wishing the audience had joined in, in true pantomime fashion, with oh yes you would. It could have gone on for hours. The truth is that Blair’s government made attempts to bring in his private sector heroes and only fierce public resistance stopped it. But it is beside the point. Is everything that the coalition does based on the belief that they are no worse than the previoius lot? We had hoped they would be better!
This morning we have yet another example of the yoo-hah politics that have taken over. Cameron has had to intervene in the dispute between the treasury and Ministry of Defence. In truth he had no option since Osborne’s department seemed hell-bent on taking away every last penny of the defence budget whilst leaving the armed forces to fight two wars. Security experts Paul Cornish and Andrew Dorman have warned in the latest issue of ‘International Affairs’, the publication of the Chatham House thinktank, that the defence review is fast becoming “the fastest policy failure in modern British history”. Meantime, the senior Harrier commander in the Falklands conflict, Nigel MacCartan-Ward, has warned that the decision to scrap our only aircraft carrier will cost almost one billion pounds over the expected six months of engagement. What he thinks of the fact that HMS Cumberland, the Nimrod spy plane, and the RAF’s Sentinel reconnaissance aircraft (now in constant action) were on their way to the scrapyard when the Libyan situation exploded, is not recorded. But we can guess!
And how does Liam Fox and his cronies explain this mighty mess? They blame Labour, who of course blame them. The truth is that Labour messed up by adding £600 million to defence coffers for the sale of Typhoon jets to Oman without waiting to ascertain that the sale would go though. And over the past decade the M.O.D has practiced costly and disastrous procurement on a grand scale. But here, as with the NHS, the fact that Labour messed up is not the issue. The coalition studied the situation for many months and then took decisions that have left us unable to defend our own airspace let alone that of Gaddafi or any other madman that Cameron decides to attack.
To an extent the relationship between Tory and Labour has aways been a bit like this, a constant tit-for-tat battle between incompetent combatants. The sad fact is that it is getting worse and the amount of lies now being fed to a public weary of the lot of them could qualify for the guinness Book of Records. At the last election the big hope was that Nick Clegg and his Lib Dem MPs would bang heads together and introduce intelligent, grown-up debate.
But that idea died on day one when he made the mistake of appearing in the rose garden with his mate ‘Dave’. Now he is desperately trying to distance himself from ‘Dave’ and all his works, but no one is listening for when it comes to saying one thing and doing another he has set new levels.
Perhaps we should organise a swap. Let the squabbling schoolkids run the country and let the politicians go back to the playground. We wouldn’t notice the difference!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; HYGIENE; “My grandmother took a bath every year, whether she needed it or not”…..Brendan Behan “Armpits lead lives of quiet perspiration”,,,,,Patrick Murray “Why do they bother saying raw sewage?; Do some people cook the stuff?….George Carlin “A gentleman is someone who gets out of the bath to go to the toilet”…Freddie Trueman “Miss Debary, Susan and Sally made their appearance, and I was as civil to them as their bad breath would allow me”…….Jane Austen “Lady Badbreath, fresh as stilton…”…..Cyril Connelly “On the day there was a full chamber pot under the breakfast table I decided to leave”…George Orwell “I remember when pants were pants. You wore them for twenty years and then cut them down for pan scrubs”…..Victoria Wood
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. The Aswan Dam 2. Cholera
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which prime minister married Gladys Mary Baldwin? 2. Which prime minister was born in Grantham, Lincolnshire?
Another day and another leak to the Daily Telegraph which seems to have more moles in Whitehall than we have in our local cricket pitch. It almost has one wondering if there is some ministerial sleight of hand involved. But they wouldn’t do that would they? As they say in Pantomime oh yes they would. At the very least today’s appearance on the front page of the daily leaker will have done the cause of Liam Fox no harm at all. Whatever the slashers and cutters now do to our armed forces he will be seen as the man that warned against it!
In his ‘for your eyes only’ letter to David Cameron, Dr Fox has emphasised that draconian cuts cannot possibly be carried out at a time when we are, rightly or wrongly, engaged in what is going to be a long war in Afghanistan. As he argues such action at a time when our troops are overstretched, and suffering constant fatalities, would lead to a dangerous loss of morale. It would also leave us short of replacements needed to enable the front line men to have vital breaks. Most people probably agree with Ed Miliband’s description of the Iraq invasion as a terrible mistake and many will extend the verdict to Afghanistan but the fact remains we are committed and our armed forces are suffering terrible consequences. To simply accept defeat as we did in Basra would give a hugely dangerous boost to terrorists. We have no option than to battle on. I say we but the battling is down to brave men who had no part in the decisions to go to war. To talk of redundancies would be the most abject betrayal of each and every one of them.
Dr Fox has gone well beyond war in his refusal to accept significnt cuts and he is surely right to do so. We cannot foretell what other emergencies will require the use of troops. He has cited examples such as a strike by firemen, Mumbai -style attacks, the 2012 Olympics, flooding – there is a near endless list of possible emergencies when the use of troops is the only answer. And he has not confined himself to the army.
The proposed reduction in ships would make many of our present commitments in the Falklands, Indian Ocean, Caribbean or Gulf impossible. The loss of amphibious shipping would rule out for ever any special operation such as the one we staged in Sierra Leone. And the defence of our traditional last line of defence, the English Channel would be in jeopardy. In today’s world air is often the biggest factor of defence and Dr Fox has set out the risks involved in reducing our airforce to what some experts are predicting will be its lowest number of aircraft ever. We may no longer be in a position to intercept incomimg ‘rogue’ hi-jacked aircraft, mount air-sea rescues or provide vital back-up in places such as Afghanistan. In other words we will for the first time in our history have inferior forces to those of our potential enemies and will certainly not be in a position to unite with NATO countries in common cause.
It is one thing to talk of cutting Quangos ( always provided it is properly planned) and quite another to even consider divesting ourselves of the nation’s defence. Even if the war in Afghanistan was to end tomorrow the need for fully manned and armed forces would remain. So long as it continues any reductions would spell utter disaster.
Who knows whether the wily old Fox knew anything about the leak of his letter. But if ever a leak has drawn the need for plumbers to the nation’s awareness this is it. Either way the doctor has for once served the nation well.There was always potential for uproar on this but the knowledge that even the Minister regards it as lunacy serves to reinforce the public view that, howver dire our Banker-induced crisis may be, we cannot tolerate the destruction of our national security.
The American dramatist Tennessee Williams ( Thomas Lanier Williams) wrote in 1953 that “We have to distrust each other. it’s our only defence aginst betrayal”. Good advice. Fortunately for once it is not the hunting enthusiast Cameron who has the fox cornered. The shoe is very much on the other foot!
IS MANKIND IN DANGER FROM GLOBAL WARMING?
Scientists continue to warn that man’s time on this planet is limited unless drastic measures are taken to prevent the destruction of the environment. But I continue to draw comfort from the fact that no government shows any real concern and most people still regard issues such as Lady Gaga’s head-covering or Adrian Chile’s demeanour as infinitely more important. As I splash around the flooded allotment my self understanding tells me that I am essentially an ostrich, but even with my head buried I still worry about signs that the boffins just may be right.
Last week provided more food for thought for ostriches. On Monday a typhoon in China poured more than 640mm of rain accompanied by winds up to 123mph. The storm triggered landslides and up to 60 people were killed. Between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning a storm system in the US brought over 75 mm of rain around Minnesota and some places were drenched with over 150mm. Meanwhile on Thursday in Asia , Seoul was hit by torrental downpours and the South Korean capital received its highest rainfall levels since records began in 1908. The Gangseo area had 293mm! At the same time New Zealand suffered winds of 62mph and more than 70 pilot whales became stranded at Spirits Bay, Northland.
Never mind, we can console ourselves with the fact that politicians are in charge of our destiny!
A READERS THOUGHT FOR TODAY; Life’s biggest battles are never seen for they all rest in your head! With thanks to Bob the Builder.
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. India 2. Becuse of fuel shortages
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. In which year did Turkey invade northern Cyprus? 2. Which organisation, founded in Britain, won the 1977 Nobel prize for peace?