Tuesday, 8 March 2005

Democracy, 'Ultimate Drivel' and saying the wrong thing

Election
Isn’t democracy wonderful?. I read the manifestos, I went to various ‘fact-check’ websites to compare the truthfulness of the parties and I even sat through the interminably dull political debates that were ever-present on the television. In the end I was torn between the Conservatives and the Socialist Alliance. The Conservatives seemed a decent choice because they will fight for my right to butcher small animals on horseback, the Socialists seemed to be complete loonies, but their hearts were in the right place. I was due to make up my mind at the polling station, but in the event, I was too goddamn lazy to actually walk to the place. One more I have failed miserably to be a good citizen.

A general election is much like the national lottery, you make a small mathematically insignificant contribution once every four years and win precisely nothing except higher taxes that put you out of pocket. Politics is all about silly sound bites such as ‘our party is the party of hard working families’. As far as I know, every family in the country would consider itself hardworking, even the ubiquitous ‘dole scroungers’ that always seem to appear in The Sun newspaper when there’s no other news around. By the time the parties’ manifesto has filtered through to the general public it has become ludicrously distorted like Chinese whispers, and people just seem to end up voting according to their natural prejudice. I guess this is understandable, repeating the redundant mantras of the nineteen eighties is far more exciting than examining boring facts and statistics. The only choice now seems to be between a pro-war Thatcherite party that dishonestly manipulates statistics, and a pro war Thatcherite party that dishonesty manipulates statistics, with a few token left wing policies tacked on to make them seem like the party of the people. We may yet see the Conservatives return to power, but not until they have repackaged themselves as ‘The New Conservatives’ and elected a leader who has a full head of hair. Only that will satisfy the shallow electorate.

Ultimate Force

Tonight’s episode of ‘Ultimate Force’ was without doubt the most pathetic hour of television I have ever had the misfortune to sit through. The whole show resembles an episode of the A-Team minus the irony and the humour. This time, Ross Kemp's SAS unit was sent to Chechnya to help the Russians destroy a terrorist clan run by an I.R.A gunman. When I saw this miserable excuse for a ‘plot’ laid out in front of me in ‘The Sun’s television supplement, I nearly choked on my dinner, and uttered several unrepeatable expletives. The whole episode looked to have been filmed in Epping Forest, which looks about as similar to Chechnya as Basingstoke does to Baghdad. The lowest point came when Ross Kemp, using the ingenious tactic of hiding in a pile of leaves manages to wipe out an entire company of Chechen rebels. The I.R.A man inspects the bloodshed and remarks, ‘this was the SAS’. ‘How did you know that?’ exclaims his second in command. The I.R.A man turns to his and says ‘body-count’, I grimaced in horror and wondered how anyone could write such drivel. Remarkably, Kemp managed to keep the same facial expression throughout the entire show, which must be some kind of record. Things took a turn for the bizarre when, upon encountering one of the oil-worker hostages the SAS had been detailed to rescue, Kemp decides that he should be executed for fear of ‘giving away our position’. If this is supposed to be based on real SAS tactics, then I for one won’t be mourning the fact that our armed forces are due to be reduced by cutbacks to a couple of rusty u-boats, half a dozen nukes and a troop of cub scouts. Eventually the poor chap was spared, but cowardly gave away the British armies position later in the programme, because of course, everyone who works for Esso is a morally repugnant capitalist. Mercifully, the plot was abandoned in favour of long drawn out gun battles in which the bullet-proof SAS slaughtered never ending hordes of tactically naïve Chechens. Eventually Ross Kemp’s team called an air strike in on their own position, purely in order to run away from the resulting explosion in cheesy slow motion. I didn’t think it was possible to produce a worse series than ‘Seaquest DSV’, apparently I was wrong.

Thursday night was the G.D.L ball and a very good occasion it was too. The venue was a real dive and the jazz band consisted of a geriatric with a keyboard, but this merely added to the character of the evening. One rather unfortunate aspect was that several of my tutors were in attendance and I had to have my wits about me in order to avoid an embarrassing faux pas. Sadly my efforts were to be in vain.

‘Do people like me, I’m afraid I’m not popular?’ mumbled my drunken ‘Trusts’ tutor. This seemed the kind of question an insecure teenager would ask, not a 40 year old lecturer at a premier law school. My alcohol addled brain wasn’t working properly and I wasn’t sure what I could possibly say in response to this. Eventually I decided upon, ‘Hey…I wouldn’t worry about it’ and then ‘You know…if you teach a subject as boring as Trusts you have to expect a bit of stick…I’m sure its not personal’. She seemed a little offended, and I realised that that probebrly wasn’t the best way I could have put it. Hopefully she won’t remember it. As with so many other occasions, I fail to say the right thing to women.

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