Idly listening to BBC Radio 4 this morning (20th January), I was struck by the news headlines. There were just three main items:
1) The Lord Mayor of London, Foxy Ken Livingstone, has welcomed the result of the vote in which Jade Goody was evicted from Big Brother on Channel 4 television.
2) Two brothers from Cambridgeshire have been reunited with their labrador dog after being prosecuted by the RSPCA for letting it get too fat.
3) Three British men have reached the coldest place in Antarctica, travelling on skis pulled by kites. They found a bust of Lenin there, left by a previous Russian expedition.
Makes you think, doesn't it? About our priorities, I mean.
I grant you that Big Brother is worth discussing, if only because it presents a worthless, shabby reflection on our modern-day values. That millions of viewers should find interest in the antics of a few over-paid, talentless D-list so-called celebrities is simply sad. That newspapers and politicians should be getting het up over the racial or not-racial pronouncements of a woman who is not only half-coloured herself but also makes no secret of her own ignorance, is ridiculous. That we should care at all about the wounded feelings of some precious Bollywood princess who went into this with her eyes open and is being paid a small fortune for it is pathetic. There's every chance that the whole thing was set up by Channel 4 and the programme-makers deliberately to boost ratings. I mean, wouldn't you? For a rational and balanced account of the whole affair, go here.
That the dog and its owners have been reunited is nice, I suppose. I'm sure we're all very pleased that the little gauleiters of the RSPCA thought this was worth pursuing. We'd be even more pleased if we could just persuade ourselves that they did so in the interests of the animal, rather than to make themselves feel really important and powerful. For some people, a peaked cap just isn't enough.
And the three men in the Antarctic? Jolly good. Well done, them. No, really.
Meanwhile, what else is happening in the world?
Iraq is imploding, with hundreds of presumably innocent people dying every day for no good reason. Iran seems set to plunge the Middle East into nuclear war, aided and abetted by the Israelis who still use the Holocaust as an excuse for ridiculous, obdurate behaviour more suited to the school playground than international diplomacy. The British government, so corrupt that it has to be investigated by the police, busily practises its own brand of obduracy and presses on with plans to enslave the population in a web of oppressive bureaucracy and surveillance.
Health watchdogs, fearful that one particular doctor is getting too rich and not paying them enough lip-service, enlist the aid of medical establishment gurus and the BBC to indulge in a spot of trial by television (Panorama this week) rather than doing their own job properly. Rather than do its job properly and make sure that dangerous criminals are kept track of and society protected, the Home Office persecutes a poor gentleman called Mark Coleman and insists that he's got to go back to Zimbabwe despite the fact that his father's family have served the British military for generations, his grandfather was a Japanese P.o.W. and helped build the Bridge over the River Kwai and his mother's family can trace their English ancestry back to the 12th Century. Probably his big mistake is being white.
The world's most eminent sunspot expert has declared that Global Warming has nothing to do with driving a Prius or holidaying in Bridport, but is caused by the level of sunspot activity. He predicts that the world will be getting cooler very soon. Nevertheless the British government will continue with plans to charge us for every mile we drive in the cars we paid for on the roads they built for us with our own money and using petrol on which we have paid them one of the highest rates of taxation in the world.
BUT, what the hell? That's not what's really important, is it? Any suggestion that the BBC has been dumbed-down is absurd. What we really care about is those intrepid kite-flyers, or Jade Goody and the other fat dog.
The GOS says: Just to keep things in perspective, here's a transcript of a conversation Jade Goody had with another contestant when she appeared on Big Brother the first time. Just to emphasise - this is the person who has lately inspired newspaper headlines in this country and abroad, who has changed the public policy of a major commercial company (Carphone Warehouse), who has precipitated the possibility that a popular television series may be cancelled, who has brought on herself the condemnation of newspapers, broadcasters, columnists, political commentators, government ministers, religious leaders and, apparently, over 30,000 members of the public.
Anyone spot the deliberate mistake? Are we, perhaps, taking the wrong person seriously?
Spencer: "I don't work on the Thames. I work in Cambridge."
Jade: "Is there not the Thames there?"
Jade: "Is there a river called the Cambridge river?"
Spencer: "Yeah, it's called the Cam."
Jade: "Really? You swear? I only thought there was the Thames. I thought that was the main one in London."
Spencer: "It is. I don't live in London."
Jade: "I'm confused. I thought Cambridge was in London. I knew Birmingham weren't in London."
Spencer: "Would you like to go and tell the group what you just said?"
Spencer: "Cambridge is a city."
Jade: "But we've got a city in London."
Spencer: "Yes. This city is called London. And there's different parts of it. Cambridge is a city."
Jade: "Of where? Kent?"
Jade: "Well England's a country, London's a city, Bermondsey's just a throw-off. Now where are you? What's your country, and what's your things?"
Spencer: "What country am I from? England. The city is called Cambridge, the county Cambridgeshire."
Jade: "So not Kent then?"
Spencer: "Nooooo.... The region is called East Anglia."
Jade: "East Angular? That's abroad. Is there not a place called East Angular abroad?"
Spencer: "Jade, have you been taking the stupid pills again?"
Jade: "Every time people tell me they work in East Angular, I actually think they're talking about near Tunisia and places like that. Am I thick?"
Spencer: "Well, I hate to say it, but you are."
Jade: "Cos Scottish and Irish and all that comes under England, doesn't it?"
Spencer: "No... They come under Great Britain. Scotland and Wales have their own flags. Northern Ireland and Ireland are different."
Jade: "So they're not together? Where's Berlin?"
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