Know your enemy part 2

 OK so Lets GO! This is what the Daily Mail – our NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR looked like on 6th March when I dragged a used copy off a train seat to take it out the “news-pool”

Front cover – Ooh heart pills. Eh? HEART PILLS? Is that news? Well actually – I can’t be too critical here can I – after all – the Express ran the same headline (mind you – the Express is running a headline today about how Aspirin beats cancer for fucks sake). It’s not like there was much else going on in the world is there. I mean apart from Harry Lusting after Katie Perry (the Star) or benefits cheats (the Sun) or transsexual con artists (the Mirror). Oh… and a massive crackdown on protests in Russia and the ticking time-bomb of Eurozone debt…. but forget that foreign rubbish A HEART PILL is what counts.

News – Well what did I expect? It seems that even-numbered pages are about the serious agenda driven stuff and odd-numbered pages are about fluff. So page 2 is about Israel and the US. Page 4 is all about cutting child benefits and Page 6 is devoted to the Mail campaign against secret court cases, with a cameo from old school Tory poster boy Ken Clarke… you know the one. Justice Secretary, the bloke who categorises rape into “serious” and “non-serious”! Anyway by the time page 8 rolls around we reach what a lot of broadsheets put on the front page Putin’s crackdown….

 Meanwhile  Page 3 runs with a story about Prince Harry’s shoes. Yes. His. Shoes. Page 5 has a saucy picture of some Oxford librarian temptress and page 7 is a pictures feature comparing SamCam’s appearance in different pap shots taken while she’s out running.

Still with me? You’ll wish you weren’t. Whenever I get past a certain mark in the Mail (and that’s very rarely, train seats come at a premium you know) I get hit by this sudden completely overwhelming depression and sickness. It’s usually when you’ve braved the first few pages and the news becomes less fluffy and more agenda driven. OK so… Sam Cam, Ken Clarke and Prince Harry are hardly subtle hints at the political leanings of the DM – but if you’ve passed the initiation the views of the paper seem to hit you in the face a lot harder the further into it you have the courage to delve.

On page 9 the agenda ramps up with a rant by Dame Joanne Bakewell about how teen magazines sexualise young girls. Never mind the reality that it’s usually when people are in their teens that they start getting curious about sex – it’s WRONG for teens to talk about sex.

Maybe the DM has a point here? Or maybe it’s rank hypocrisy given the massive overt sexualisation of EVERYTHING when you browse the Daily Mail online. A cyber-world where DM paps relentlessly pursue FIVE-YEAR-OLD Suri Cruise for bikini shots. In fact the Daily Mail website is bikini obsessed. A search for the 6 letter word turns up 5,699 results. I’d show a screengrab but anything from DM online is virtually NSFW these days.  We only have to fast forward a few pages here and the Mail is discussing a Gina Ford suggestion that mothers should “grin and bear it” and have unwilling sex with their partners soon after giving birth…. So sexualising teenagers is wrong – but pre-teen bikini shots and forcing yourself to have sex when you don’t want to are fair game… yeah?

Anyway the massive hypocrisy of the Mail when it comes to moralising is a common theme. Onwards – before I get bogged down too much.

By page 14 I actually do feel physically sick. The paper has 80 pages – and I’m sick by page 14. That’s how bad it is. Maybe they should put something on the cover about how reading the DM gives you ulcers as one of the many health scares they gleefully try to terrorise their readership with. On page 14 there is a Quentin Letts rant about the “loonie” “left-wing” quango the Equality & Human Rights Commission. It’s awful.  Here’s a quote

Oh, and they happily spend millions of pounds of public money — your money, taken from your wages — on propaganda officers specialising in race relations, militant secularism and transgender rights outreach.

It’s like I’m on a boat. On the Congo river. Descending into some malarial right-wing feverishness.

Thank fuck then for pages 20 and 21. THANK FUCK. Because we get to a part of the paper called “life” which I think is targeted at women. Why? Why would they call a section “life” and target women with it? How Do I know it targets women? Well. You see. It features 2 pages of photos. 13 pairs of photos of male celebrities. 26 pictures. 13 of them are with beard and 13 without. And the reader gets to decide which is sexier. Beard.Or.No.Beard.  Does this seem strange? Well yes… a bit- but compared to reading the spew of Quentin Letts and the DM Comment column it’s like someone’s injected helium into my cranium and I’m floating away gently. More vapid pictures of men in beards PLEASE.

You get the idea

Shit. On page 21 it’s back to Letts. SOMEONE KILL ME. He’s reviewing the day in parliament. How very proper. Not the place where you’d expect a columnist to throw around personal insults eh? Hold it – how does he describe Ed Milliband?

For once, it was possible to watch Ed’s snorky, honking, spit-sploshy, gawky-geek style – arms lashing around like spaghetti in a tornado, teeth forcing themselves past those lips like the rocks off Land’s End breaking through the foaming briny – and admire young dobbin Miliband for his sheer persistence and stamina.

A good day for Parliament’s leading trainspotter! Triumph for the man in the flapping trousers! He glowed as he may not have done since his days as a Rubik’s Cube prodigy at primary school.

When Mr Miliband sat down he was sweetly pleased with himself. His tongue licked itself all over after making such an effort. His nostrils flared, two open drainpipes. His pigeony chesty heaved and he gave a sealion bark of laughter, so caught up was he by the excitement of the hour. He took on water like Thomas the Tank Engine or a camel at the last oasis before the M4.

So basically it’s not a review of what happened at parliament – it’s a right-wing columnist throwing a series of personal insults at the leader of the opposition. Well done to the NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR.

Jeepers. Letts has given me a brane haemorrhage. I didn’t realise that simply reading the NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR would be so stressful. I actually need a break before I pass out.

To be continued – after all – I’m only up to page 21

Know your enemy Part 1

Ok so….. STOP THE PRESS.

No I mean it. Like bring an end to it all. Smash up those apparatus of media propaganda with massive fuck-off hammers and start again with etchings and hand scrawled pamphlets.

Johannes Gutenberg, Elijah Lovejoy and other printing pioneers must be spinning their graves into muddy sludge right now!

Why? Well the Daily Mail won newspaper of the year last night. That’s right – a rag filled with little more than fear, hate and celebrity gossip was the standout British paper last year!

Maybe the award was partly for Dacre's contemptuous performance for Leveson

But that’s just a symptom isn’t it?

What I’m really saying is that the printing press, originally an apparatus to free people from oppression has now been transformed into a tool of oppression in itself. Where once the printing press was used to smash injustice and spread the truth, it has become a means of social control shower us with cancer scares and shiny pictures of bikinis as a means of distracting the day-to-day drudgery that we’re burdened with.

But I digress. That would be too depressing to dig myself into on such a beautiful spring day… and look – there’s a picture of a bikini and some cancer scare to occupy my five second attention span.

The Daily Mail eh?!

Who would have thought it? In a year where we’ve seen the Guardian break the phone hacking story which brought down our largest Sunday tabloid and transformed the media landscape forever we see the spiritual and actual home of Richard Littlejohn running away with the plaudits. Let’s get this straight, I’m not venting sour grapes like some Guardian loving leftie (well, maybe I am). There are plenty of worthy stories that have been broken by different parts of the media, the Paul Foot awards are evidence of that (ahem although the phone hacking story did win it).

Isn't this a bit more like it?

But the DAILY MAIL? To me it seems incomprehensible.

Sometimes I see the Daily Mail lying around on the train.

 I always pick it up, for two reasons. First is to take it out of circulation. I mean. Every Mail I pick up and bin is surely a service to humanity if it prevents some other poor soul having their mind warped into a vortex of immigrant-blaming, health-scare-mithering, crime-fearing paranoia. Second. Oh go on. It’s a bit of a laugh isn’t it. Let’s delve into the brane of the enemy and see what makes Dacre et al tick. Anyone who opposes something should know what they oppose and we can all laugh at the stupids while we do it. The problem is that after a few pages I feel ill from all the bile I’m ingesting and I have to put the paper down. I’ve got one in my bag from weeks ago that I’ve not had the courage to read properly yet for precisely that reason.

But this is the newspaper of the YEAR. Now I suddenly feel honour bound now to see what has made it so great. So in the interest of amateur curiosity lets take a look into the Daily Mail I picked up on March 6th and see what it is that makes such a national treasure so great!

To be continued

Sinking ships

Gah. Just saw that James Murdoch’s resigned from News International

Had a brief moment of “whoop” before the stilted reality of it hit me,

I mean… So what?

So fucking what?!

The king is dead eh! Long live the king.

Those of us hoping that scratching the Murdoch name from the taint of the NI stable would herald some new utopian era of reporting, where journalists stop going through bins and making up saucy kiss and tell fantasies are likely to be sorely disappointed.

With all the Leveson revelations gushing out of the enquiry like a burst sewage pipe you’d think that there would be a news revolution taking place! You’d think that James Murdoch wouldn’t just be quitting – but that he’s be committing ritual suicide along with all the unscrupulous hacks that he gave a voice to. You’d think his dad, Ruprecht, would be willing to appear on the telly draped in a costume made from the skin and hair of a sacrificial Rebekah Brooks offering to give his power and fortune to charity while he ekes out the rest of his days as a hermit in a cave with just lizards for company (step up Cameron and Clegg).

Yeah. We’re finding out what we knew already. That NoTW was like the tip of an iceberg –  but an iceberg made of frozen shitstorm drifting perilously close to the good ship newscorp. That power grabbing Fox-news-toting, king-making, phone-tapping vessel is already springing a few leaks – lets watch it go!

Problem is that Ruprecht and his son can see this. They’re like puppet lizard masters aren’t they. NoTW scandal? Easy… close the fucker down. Relaunch the Sun on Sunday! And guess what – you’ve just got streamlined your editorial staff – made huge cost-savings and are still tapping into exactly the same market. Man – nothing gets past these guys does it.

That’s what’s so dispiriting about the news of James being jettisoned. The stink that Leveson is releasing into the atmosphere is fetid… far too fetid for ickle James, who doesn’t want his name mixed up in that. Much easier to jetpack him out of there. Then what? Simples… sell the lot.

News Corp has bigger fish to fry and they know print media is dying a slow death. Why not just end the family link to it all and let the world laugh at Rebeckah and her police horse while you quietly get the fuck out and laugh all the way to the bank.

Meanwhile the knee jerker will still go out and buy their daily fix of tits and brainwashing – just like they all queued up to do for the Sun on Sunday – as if hacking a dead girls phone for a story had never happened in the first place!

Leave the room now if you don’t want to know the score

Oh it’s a funny old game ennit? Eh!

Fucking hilarious! Like a one man stand up show. Benny Hill meets Bill Hicks and they both make us all laugh like we’re dead. We are all dead aren’t we? HAHAHA. We’ve just been resurrected and Jimmy Carr is telling us all jokes about Alan Carr – not the funny one. The one that died of cancer. But now the other Alan Carr’s arrived and he’s just written a sitcom with Richard Pryor and Alan Bennett about the life of John Cleese. That funny!

Well it’s not funny. But it is a game. It’s football. The national sport. The thing that seems to command more passion and dedication in this country than the reality of things like the economy. Like eating and drinking. Like shelter and society.

I’ve steered clear of football for a while now. Mainly because football is so ubiquitous in the news that it’s wallpaper. Things change in the news. Celebrities come and go. Natural disasters strike, governments blah their shit and the press collectively cream themselves over one scandal or the other all the time. But football is forever. It’s like paving stones in a street, I mean. How often do you look down and think

“look all those paving stones? How did they get there? There are gazillions of them. They’re everywhere. Blimey. I’m having a panic attack thinking about the interconnection of them all”

Unless you got spiked with LSD and you’ve been caught out going to the shops for something pointless like windolene (no-one? Oh!?) I’d guess you almost NEVER think about how integral paving stones are to our lives. Football has the same relationship with news. It swills around and gets spat out of the mouth of the press every morning and the reader absorbs it all without even noticing that much.

But it’s been a busy few weeks even for football. Ubiquity on the back pages has spread to scandal on the front ones. We’ve had Harry Redknapp confessing to being unable to read or write. Not only that but a court believed him and he was found not guilty of tax evasion. Not only that but he only fucking managed to do it just in time to be hailed as the saviour of english football. WHY? Because Fabio Capello ONLY quit as England boss. EH? BUT WE’VE GOT EUROS IN A FEW MONTHS. Shit yeah. He only walked because he couldn’t make John Terry Captain. WHY? Cos’ John Terry only got charged with racial abuse on Anton Ferdinand . Jesus! Yeah. And that’s not the half of it. Suarez got banned for being a daft racist to Evra! NO?! What happened there? Well Suarez only refused to shake Evra’s hand and still hasn’t apologised for calling him “negrito” in  a game. Really? Yeah, And get this. Tevezis back at Man city. But he reckons Mancini treated him like a DOG! Really? Oh yeah, and Speed died. Oh!

Ha ha. Geddit? Yeah. He CAN'T WRITE. Ho ho ho

On it rolls. Like a shitty soap opera – sitting on the edge of anything resembling reality. A world where someone who claims to be unable to read and write is being touted as the genius who will lead the country to glory. A world where winning a few consecutive games with a ball actually is considered glory. A world where someone throws a hissy fit because they get banned for a few matches for something that would normally have someone sacked on the spot. A world where a manager walks out because they can’t effectively reward someone for having criminal charges hanging over them. A world where someone has such a complete lack of perspective that they think being paid 200 grand a week and then frozen out of a team for refusing to play is being treated like an animal.

So long and thanks for all the... I dunno.money?

The thing is. I’m not one of those people who hate football. I LOVE football. I love playing it. I love watching it. I even support a team. I go and see them, have done for 20 years. I can more than hold my own in those pub debates about who should play up front alongside Rooney or who blabblabla needs to bring in to step up and do blblblblbaaaaaah blabble. The magic of football is that you can usually throw a bunch of strangers together at some event, a wedding, a conference, a blind date – and the chances are that, whatever else they might not have in common, they can usually fall back on the beautiful game as some sort of lukewarm icebreaker. I know it’s shallow but jesus. if it’s a choice between telling someone what I do for a living for the umpteenth time or debating whether Mick McCarthy is a decent manager I’d rather go with Mickey talking anytime.

But FFS. It.is.only.game. Football is not more important than life and death. It’s something people do. For fun. There is only one thing in the world that is elevating football to this completely false pedestal and that it the obsession of the press. Once upon a time I used to check news on my team daily. I even used to submit articles to a football blog. Now I can’t even bring myself to read the back pages in the morning. And why do I need to? Anything happens in football and it spreads like wildfire. It’s usually all over the front pages … headlines screaming about Capello. Or it’s all over Twitter. With knuckle scraping racists vomiting abuse at the accounts of players like Evra and commentators like Collymore because they happen to be black. If Tevez lacks perspective maybe it’s because he’s been elevated to the status of a demigod by a drooling bunch of sport hacks and then demonised to the point of being Beelzebub himself by the very same hacks because he started to actually believe what they were saying in the first place. I mean even as I’m writing this there’s Harry, on the telly, talking up a part-time role as England manager. Looking a bit like my 90 year old nan. I only turned the news on to see the weather now it’s all Harry Redknapp and Glasgow rangers going into administration. Going into administration because they don’t want to pay a 9 million tax bill. That’s less than Tevez’s annual fucking salary!

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Kenny

Of all this the only thing deserving of attention is the racism claims. But even then the press are couching it as a “debate”. There is no need for debate here. There’s no need to draw a saga out for months on end unless you want to bleed the story dry and give even a hint of justification to the scum who think it’s OK. The one’s who think it’s “banter”  and start sentences with “I’m not racist but” or say “some of my best friends are black” – yeah. Best friends who hate your guts really because you’re an embarrassing racist. Football was close to stamping that out, if the press want to do one thing here they should make sure it doesn’t come back – and judging by what I’ve read directed at black footballers on twitter – we still have a long way to go.

Mrs Leveson’s Enquiry

OK SO! I finally buckled yesterday.

Well buckled isn’t the right word is it. I mean I was hardly under a stream of unrelenting pressure. I just … well … did what I wanted to I suppose.

What am I talking about?

The Leveson enquiry of course. The words on the tip of the tongue of every media blogger and commentator out there for as long as my junk smashed brane can remember.

By rights I should have been tuning into the live feed daily like a stupid salmon migrating home to spawn and die. It’s a chance to finally hold the press that I deride to account for all the godawful shit they make the public put up with. It’s covering everything: phone hacking, privacy invasion, celebrity stings, churnalism and all the other gutter spewing tactics the media resort to in order to bolster circulation and propogate their murky political agendas.

Yeah. I should be all over Leveson like bark on a tree. But it was only yesterday, after months of ‘meh’ that I actually took an interest.

“WHY???” I cry back to myself (punctuating each of the three question marks with a shrill little echo). Well two reasons. First I been buzzy. Like panicking myself into a fuzzy ball of vomit buzzy. EVERY DAY. When I started this blog weekly updates was the aim but fuck me that’s hard when ‘the man’ is out there slamming you into the coal face with a cricket bat every day. Jesus!

All work and no play makes me want to kill humanity one by one

But that’s not worth going into. Second is because the whole Leveson thang has left me feeling a bit ‘meh’. Perhaps it’s just that I got Leveson fatigue really quickly. Following @hackingenquiry on twitter (who bizarrely have an avatar resembling a highwayman’s mask) meant that my feeble feed of daily mush got flooded with bone dry platitudes.

So what is this? A mask? A tape? An old school instant camera film?

Platitudes that were compounded by tonnes of analysis and commentary from other twitter feeds. Add to that the ubiquitous live blogging and streaming feeds from the Guardian and it was like being smothered under a big Leveson shaped blanket. Even without paying any attention at all I felt I knew what was going on. Like when you don’t watch a soap opera for a year, then go back and the same characters are saying the same things in the same way.

Steve's looking a bit tired these days

The enquiry quickly lapsed into groundhog day with most of the people repeating the same sentiments. Only Leveson hasn’t learned to play piano and sculpt ice like Bill Murray. On top of that the man Leveson didn’t fill me with confidence. I’m prejudiced because whenever I hear the word Leveson it reminds me of the Mrs Levinson characters in a league of gentlemen, and it’s hard to respect someone when you have that in your head.

Would you let this man run a press enquiry?

Leveson also irked me when he said that he wouldn’t be drawn into a witch hunt.

These aren’t witches you idiot they’re journalists. A much more devious enemy. If you don’t hunt them down they’ll eat your SOUL

There have been highlights sure. The wronged celebs queuing up to vent their spleen. Cannon fodder car crash hacks like Paul McMullen checking in to patter out their hasty orisons. But til yesterday it didn’t grip me like a gristle.

Stay Classy Paul

WHY? (again with the shouting). Well. Dacre of course! The warm up acts were there to soften us up for the big bout. But in all honesty the Daily Mail Editor was a big draw. Finally a chance to see the nemesis of the left-wing media squirming in a chair under a rigorous cross-examination of righteous anger. What would happen? Would he melt under scrutiny? Would he reveal himself as a shape-shifting lizard intent on controlling humanity? Would he somehow evangellically convert all his critics into fans and secure some sort of Daily Mail led fourth Reich?

MY secret hope was for a Jonny Marbles style pie incident – but a pie secretly laced with Sodium Pentothal so that Dacre would be unable to help himself and the truth would come pouring out like a lumpy tearful haemorrhage leaving the mouths of the watching world agape as Dacre confesses to crimes we didn’t even know existed.

Yeah. Grant and McMullen were fun but Dacre was serious and far more likely to be entertaining than the bland and fully lawyered up Murdoch clan.

The weird thing about tuning into Leveson is that it’s actually a bit like listening to an audio book of a tabloid newspaper. But one that’s delivered in dry legalistic tones. Listening to Dacres warm up acts of Dan Wootton and Nick Owens was almost literally a list of celebrity gossip speculation being sombrely related from a transcript . Like… you know when they read out the  name of every person who died on 911 on the tenth anniversary? Well it was like that but without the emotional heartstring pulling sobs – instead a dry soulless narrative.  Oh. And also without people’s names being read out – but instead little titbits of celebrity tittle-tattle instead. So nothing like the 911 readings then. Bizarrely that’s more diverting than it sounds. Who could fail to stifle a giggle as cross examiners danced carefully around Kerry Katona’s Kocaine (sic) hell or as they drily read sweary transcripts speculating over the imaginary cosmetic surgery stories Chris Atkins made up for Starsuckers.

It was almost as though lesser journalists were just being called up to be laughed at for a bit at the ludicrousness of their profession then sent home chastened with the knowledge that what they engaged in was pretty stupid. When NOTW showbiz gossip Dan Wootton boasted that he kept a copy of the PCC code in his wallet at all times I had to laugh out loud.  

BIG BOX LITTLE BOX BIG BOX LITTLE BOX

Dacre himself was much more of a difficult beast to cage though. Unlike the others, he gave the impression that he actually believed in what he was doing. And that all this broo-ha-ha was little more than an irritating diversion from his day job of running the world. Any difficult question he could swat away like a bug by saying he didn’t have involvement or wasn’t in the office. Funny how editors are always out of the office when all the big stuff goes down. Funny how someone like Dacre takes personal and excessive credit for the Stephen Lawrence prosecutions – but had little or no involvement with legal actions from the likes of Neil Morrissey. Also funny how he can’t remember half the things he said about Hugh Grant but is happy to launch into a full apoplectic rage when picked up on his mendacious smear comments.

There were highlights – Dacre’s slip of the tongue when he implied that he sought to prevent legislation that would have made the UK the only country in the world that imprisoned journalists (erm – that would be “world” in Daily Mail terms of Dacre’s back yard then?) and the semantics of a conversation about whether turning on the bathroom light at night could cause cancer. However, Dacre’s appearance was ultimately disappointing. It was like having your grumpy old uncle over for Christmas Dinner – the one who is secretly an alcoholic and wants to be down the pub knocking back shorts instead of telling everyone what he got for Christmas and whether he believes Santa Claus exists.

Dacre highlights the problems of the Leveson enquiry to me. While the lower minions and hacks feel the full force of national ridicule in the face time Leveson grants them, the big guns are too busy, too savvy and too “mock” disinterested to give themselves away. Unless someone does start making up a Sodium Pentathol pie quickly Dacre, Murdoch et al will represent trawlers that the gulls can’t get Sardines from.

Liddle Englander

Gah. I hate Rod Liddle

Actually. I don’t think that’s much of a claim to fame is it. I mean be honest. Hands up who likes Rod Liddle. Up and high! There. Three of you. In the whole world. Probably family or something. Hating Rod Liddle is a pretty easy thing to say. I’m not talking the hating him in the wishing a cancerous death on him and hoping people queue up to defecate on his grave hate. He’d probably take it as some sort of backhanded compliment – to have commanded such a visceral feeling in people. Besides he’s too stupid to queue up and hate. Let’s face it. In the evil empire stakes he’s no Rupert Murdoch or Paul Dacre. Probably not even a  Richard Littlejohn or Melanie Philips. More of a Liz Jones – a languid hate figure – like the little devil’s advocate who pops up when you have a good idea and bores you out of it.

But my hatred of Rod Liddle isn’t based purely on the words that come out of that self-congratulatory cakehole of his or the petty little spites that stem from his spindly fingertips (they’re probably not spindly. They’re probably fat fingers slapping the keyboard but I need to paint him with some elegant features).

I bet you a tenner he's in jeans and pointy shoes as well

You see I hate all the bits about him. I hate what he looks like. I hate all the top half media shots of him in a shirt because I know with all my heart that he’s wearing jeans and loafers with it. Like someone who aspires to be a posterboy for the middle-aged Jeremy Clarkson look. Or one of the “cool” geography teachers you might have come across if you went to school in the early 90s. I hate that dull face with the half dead eyes and the shock of irrelevant white hair. Looking for all the world like a bland goblin from lord of the rings.  A nondescript moon-faced goblin that all the other goblins would “accidentally” forget to invite to their goblin parties for fear of being caught in the corner in then kitchen listening to this goblin prattle on about how the Uruk Hai were coming to middle earth and taking all their jobs. To me Rod Liddle has a face of ubiquity tinged with the Stevel Buscemi curse of being “funny looking” It’s a type of face I see everywhere and nowhere. At one point I even thought the man was stalking me.

Flash back 6 years BANG! There I am hanging out near London Bridge. Minding my own business. Might go to Borough Market and grab a falafel or whatever it is I was eating back then (to be honest I’ve already forgotten what I ate for tea last night). Walk past a cashpoint and who’s that staring back at me looking for all the world like some sort of innocuous bland goblin that no-one invited out. I swear it was Rod Liddle. At the time my only thought was whether it counted as a celeb spot. Like that time I saw Jarvis Cocker pushing his bike round Piccadilly. I decided it wasn’t. Even I barely knew who Rod Liddle was.

Flash forward a year or two from there. Rod Liddle’s been really grating me. I noticed he’d been writing about fotball. Sitting there like some smug self-appointed guru on all things football using his support of Millwall as justification. In the way that some fans of lower league teams claim to be better supporters than anyone else because they’re “grass roots” fans.Even though half of them are still as armchair lazy as your average glory hunter. Rod’s been worse than most though. Sitting there glibly demeaning a slew of fans, clubs and players and throwing in a liberal sprinkling of Millwall comments in the hope it will disguise the fact that he’s actually a complete fucking idiot when it comes to football. Or anything for that matter. Anyway. There I am one night at a concert with some friends. And then. Who is that standing at the back with the long grey horseface? God he looks bored. The gig isn’t bad but he’s bringing me down. He looks at me. SHIT! I swear to god that’s Rod fucking Liddle. At a concert. Staring at me like a hangdog. Stealing a bit of my soul because he needs it for himself.

Imagine this staring at you.FOREVER

That’s that. If I hear the words “Rod Liddle” again I swear I’m going to throw up a litre of black sludge and train it to seek home down and kill him. Problem is that he’s all over the papers. Suddenly he’s reviewing restaurants, holding court over his nothing views on football, writing opinion columns for the tabloids. Getting books published, appearing on the telly. I cannot avoid those cold, dark eyes glaring sullenly at me from the pages. I’m in a restaurant eating a meal. It’s my wedding anniversary. One of my favourite restaurants. THERE’S ROD LIDDLE EATING AT THE TABLE NEXT TO ME. No double-take this time. It’s unmistakably him. He looks like he hasn’t slept for a month and is chewing his meal expressionlessly. The only time he seems to emote is with a wan smile when the celebrity chef owner drops by his table to press the flesh in the hope of a good review. Suddenly my brevette tastes like cardboard. This is getting beyond a coincidence.

That was the last I saw or heard of Rod Liddle. I hope he’s got what he wanted from me. I don’t want to have dreams like aphex twin videos where hoards of children with Rod Liddle’s face surround me punching and kicking taking my wallet, clothes, internal organs. I almost succedded in forgetting he existed.

Until today. When I saw he’d put his foot in his mouth again with his comments about disabled people as covered here in political scrapbook. I mean. Jesus what an idiot. Joking about pretending to have M.E. Talking about how there’s a lot of money to be made from being disabled and how fashionable it’s become. The man is as much troll as goblin spouting out as many offensive platitudes as he can in the vague hope he’ll get noticed. He’s like one of those drunken tramps you see screeching filth in the street. Getting louder and more abusive. Not because he really thinks what is coming out of his mouth, but because he wants someone. Anyone. To notice him!

Slamming disabled people really is sick more like.

Did you read his Burns day comments yesterday? Awful. On a day celebrating Scottish tradition he decides to. Attack the Scotts. Lets not forget that 2 years before “The Wright Stuff” made its massive “Foxy Knoxy – Would ya?” blunder Liddle was their first by asking the same about Harriet Harman

There’s an interesting insight into Rod Liddle here in the Spectator where he describes is views.

Y’see he thinks of himself as being a left-wing member of the labour party “ I am pretty much of the left… I sign up to most of the stuff which used to be considered left – decent minimum wage, redistributive tax policy, social ownership of those things which as a society we need but which the market struggles to provide” Well Rod. That makes you a  bit of a Socialist!

But he also has views on immigration too. “My worries about immigration, meanwhile, are twofold; that as a country we have become too crowded, and that the free movement of labour has made it harder for indigenous working class people … My dislike of multiculturalism stems not simply from the belief that competing cultures undermine a sense of national identity … but that some of the cultures we have encouraged, or made allowances for, are profoundly illiberal” Hmmm interesting Rod. You see that sentiment makes you a bit of a Nationalist.

What can I say – in Rod’s own words he appears to be willing to preach nationalist socialist views. Probably no surprise then, that, not content with picking on disabled people, he also enjoys cracking jokes about Auschwitz to his Millwall chums “It’s fucking outrageous that you can’t smoke in Auschwitz. I had to sneak round the back of the gas chambers for a crafty snout. Also, I wasn’t convinced by the newish Auschwitz Burger Bar and Grill.” or making racist rants ‘There’s thousands of organisations catering exclusively to black and asian minorities. fuck ’em, close them down. Why do blacks need a forum of their own?”(warning daily mail link).

Personally I just hope he doesn’t start stalking me again.

Year in review

Gah.

Whoever designed these calendars – with all their national holidays and bizarre chronological fumblings let themselves and the western world down with this one didn’t they. I mean. December is just plain wrong as a month… But now? Now is the dark time. The eye in the storm.

You start off all hyped up. With Christmas party after Christmas party. Rolling like a punchdrunk boxer from one pointless round of boozy shame to the next. Waking up each morning riven with nausea, fear and the gut wrenching guilt that every office party brings. Wondering whether you’ll even live to see the next year or whether your merciful liver and heart will do you a favour and just give up. Then you’re thrust into a maelstrom of Christmas panic. Gift shopping, overspending. Buying enough food to give an army gout. Sitting on the floor of department stores weeping, still drunk from the night before wondering if this overpriced piece of novelty plastic is really what your loved ones need to have.

Then it arrives. And you spend a few days doing nothing but cooking, eating, drinking, wearing a smile like armour as you graciously open your own novelty plastic, or socks, or jumpers, or soap, or whatever. Throwing out the well-practiced “thank yous” before settling down to stuff yourself with fat and guilt and booze to take away the ache of how much all of this actually cost and how much of it will go to waste.

Then it’s over. Whatever endorphin rush you might have had. The faint lustre you felt when you opened a gift you really wanted or sank down a stone heavier in a fug of gin and sugar to enjoy the Christmas special of some awful celebrity television show or other. Well it’s all gone. Christmas has spat you out the other side. Suddenly you are Free. FREE to actually get on with your life and try to ease the memory gently away by looking FORWARD – at the brave new world to come.

Did I really watch this or was it just a terrible dream?

Well. That’s how it should be. Christmas should be this cathartic blow out. Getting all the old demons to have a party in your brane then BANG you expel them like some sort of wine-soaked exorcist leaving you clean, shaking and newborn for the new year.

But Christmas can’t let go that easily can it. It leaves its clammy claws in your flesh and it’s alcohol soaked tongue in your mouth a few days longer. Like a desolate ex who has to hack your Facebook account one last time before the restraining order finally takes them away from you.

Instead of a fresh start the calendar throws up this limbo. The dead zone between the overwhelming consumption of the Christmas bank holidays and the fresh austerity of the New Year. If you’re one of the lucky ones you’ll aimlessly roll yourself out of bed and crawl downstairs in whatever clothes you fell asleep in to perch yourself on a sofa and consume your weight in leftover fat or salt based snacks drinking beer, wine, spirits, chlorine or anything. Mindlessly wallowing in television repeats of everything that Christmas threw at you when it was actually happening. The less lucky go to work. A few days of solitude in a half-empty office killing time and counting down the minutes until they can vacate their desks and run back in the miserable cold without arousing too much suspicion.

But secretly the unlucky ones are the lucky ones. That frosty air they suffer on their commute? That’s real air. The FRESH stuff – from “outdoors” a place they probably barely saw except when piling in and out of cars to see family or friends. That thing they’re doing with their legs? That’s “walking” – something some people might have forgotten as they looked down at their bloated appendages on boxing day wondering through a gin-drenched fug what the pointy bits of flesh and bone were actually for. Getting out and about can be part of the rehabilitation of Christmas. And best of all it saves you from the god-awful dirge that the news tries to dish up into your lap like recycled sewage during the limbo days.

When bear sightings and traffic roadworks are the highlights of a year you know there's trouble

That’s right. I’m talking about the endless “year in review” programs and articles that the press and media hide behind to disguise the fact that they actually have nothing left to offer us for the year. All the glitz and glamour they had before December 25th is faded. Newsrooms everywhere are on a skeleton staff, churning out sweet nothings because, lets face it, there isn’t much to report when Corporate PR offices stop throwing out press releases and a large part of the world sits on the sofa for days on end. Yesterday the BBC were reporting from a recycling centre to crowbar in a story about post-Christmas waste disposal – I’m even sure I heard something about Goats being herded on a motorway.

Instead the news tries to bury us in nostalgia. Remind the mouth-breathing public with its goldfish memory and fickle imaginings what it was that made them so angry or interested in the world around them a few months ago. Long forgotten montages are thrust back at us with some hangdog anchor droning on at how “great” it was when there was a royal wedding or how marvellous a job we did in invading Libya and killing Gaddafi (and a few thousand civilians) – conveniently rewriting bits and pieces here and there, like the fact that we were only supposed to get involved in the civil war of a sovereign state to safeguard civilian lives.

LOOK you need pictures here to actually REMEMBER what happened

It’s a cheap trick – but fuck it – without a boxing Day Tsunami to capture the world’s imagination there’s nothing more the media can do than dredge up stuff that should have been long-forgotten. And it can’t do any harm can it? I mean. The past is the past. All the news has to do when it reports these dull-as-dishwater years in review is just run an endless loop of shit that has already happened and hope that a general public, dulled by alcohol and saturated fat will lap it up. In a way it’s almost an exercise in branewashing. If you end your year with a review of what you think is important then the bovine oafs weakened by Decembers exertions and struggling to find meaning in these scant days before the financial chill of January will remember your opinion and maybe take that as theirs going forward.

The good news then is that sometimes the press do get it wrong. Spectacularly wrong. Perhaps wrong enough to rouse people from their slumber and actually express an opinion of their own. The safety of regurgitating old copy or footage and accompanying it with commentary that was probably subbed as far back as October to fill up the column inches and airwaves now gets called into question. Especially when you see mistakes as monumental as the BBC’s when they reported “Faces of the year 2011 – the women” yesterday. Even a newsjaded cretinous cynic like myself was mouth agape in a mixture of rage and hysterical laughter when I saw the weight of the clanger being dropped by a press room so obviously full of festive opiates.

Caught between rage and mocking laughter at the idiocy of the beeb

That’s right. Not satisfied with deciding women weren’t good enough to even warrant being shortlisted for a pointless sporting accolade this year, the BBC decided to grind the noses of 50% of the world’s population further into the dirt with their women of the year list.

If you can’t see very well I can tell you that one of them is a Panda. That’s right. Not. A. Woman. A. Panda. But to me that is not the worst of it. In a year when women continue to struggle against male patriarchy there are a host of women who could step into the limelight as influential and crucial figures. But instead the focus is on people like “Pippa Middleton” famous for … erm… attending a wedding? or “Kelsey de Santis” who basically went to a ball with Justin Timberlake. Or the “Duchess of Alba” famous for looking a bit strange and marrying a toyboy.

The list is vapid and sickening in a year when we’ve seen Angela Merkel at the heart of European politics and Aung San Suu Kyi returning to politics after 15 years of house arrest in Burma. Instead of congratulating Christine Lagarde for heading the IMF the BBC decided to make Nafissatou Diallo a woman of the year simply because she accused the former head of the IMF of raping her. The Panda adds insult to injury but the real problem in this is that the BBC has decided that women need to be remembered for sex, marriage and their subjugation to men rather than for their actual achievements. Something that, thankfully, enough people have noticed is just plain wrong.