Minding Your Language

You can bet a pound to a piece of shit that when someone opens a sentence with “No offence but…” they’re about to say something offensive. You can wager your left testicle that if you book Ricky Gervais  to host you awards ceremony he’ll say something that someone somewhere will find in poor taste. That’s why you hire him, right ? Apparently not. The US media (aided and abetted manfully by our own wonderful boys in Fleet St) have launched a thermo-nuclear retaliatory strike on the once-weighty wag for his performance at the Golden Globes.

Now personally I find him hilarious, but that’s just my opinion. Looking around the audience it seems that Robert De Niro and Alec Baldwin do too, though Steve Buscemi looks absolutely terrified of what Gervais may say next. And what about Mel Gibson ? Well, who gives a toss what he thinks ?

Are Hollywood’s finest fair game for merciless and personal attacks by someone who, let’s face it, could be described as a one-joke act ? It’s a matter of opinion, I suppose. How may years can one bloke get by with the “Charlie Sheen is a drunk” routine ? Only time or Charlie’s liver will tell. Personally, it makes me laugh. A lot.

The US media went berserk. Gervais was hounded from pillock to post by critics and columnists condemning his act as hurtful, offensive and/or unfunny. All of which is, again, a matter of personal taste and values, but such was the furore it caused Gervais felt it necessary to appear on the Piers Morgan show on CNN to defend himself. It must be a tv first for Morgan not to have been thought of as the biggest git in the room.

Meanwhile, the Golden Globes get huge play in the media, Gervais’s next tour or DVD will  break all records and someone somewhere will book him again next year to host an awards ceremony. He’s either very, very funny, or he isn’t. He’s brilliant or a blasphemer. So here’s an unoriginal thought: There’s always the off-button if you don’t like him.

The off-button option is one I’ve been using quite a bit recently. I know I’m not alone in finding the BBC’s Come Fly with Me offensive in the way it portrays various minority groups, but beyond the thinly-veiled racism is the one thing that really offends me: It’s not funny. I mean, really not funny. Even though I pronounced this latest offering from Matt Lucas and David Walliams as rubbish having watched the first show, and having read the outrage from similarly enraged viewers, I decided to give it another go this week – to give it a fair crack.

It was even worse than I recalled. Yes it was still racist but it was even less funny than I gave it credit for. I really tried to give it my best shot, but after fifteen minutes of this tosh I found myself yearning for the blessed relief afforded by my grandfather’s service revolver. Fortunately for the sake of my family and the wallpaper, I chose the off-button instead.

Ooh look, everyone ! A fat, lazy black woman !

I find David Walliams trying at the best of times. When I am King people like him will be detained under my strict Anti-Smug Git laws. Quite what he has to be smug about Allah only knows. His characters are at best weak and predictable, at worst blatantly stolen or copied from elsewhere. There’s nothing wrong with nicking jokes. This site is made up almost entirely of stolen photos, jokes and videos from other sources. If Humphrey Littleton or Tony Hancock were alive today they’d probably sue me for blatant plagiarism (for this piece alone).

But I’d like to think I’d never use crap 70’s sitcom Mind Your Language as a base for my material, let alone pass it off as original. But again there’s that little button at the top of my remote control that lets me turn him off, almost a fast as he turns me off. This show offends me but I’m not compelled to watch it, any more than you’re forced to read this twaddle.

If only messrs Gray and Keys had known where the off-buttons on their microphones were. These two Sky TV football pundits were caught giving their considered opinions on the appointment of a woman to run the line for the weekend’s Wolves vrs Liverpool match.

Who would have thought two middle-aged, old-school soccer experts would express such sexist feeling towards women in the man’s game ? Women’s groups were up in arms. Karen Brady was apoplectic. Suspensions and apologies followed, and between the giggling, private support and wholehearted agreement Fleet Street’s finest gave the Sky boys a proper going over. So everyone’s offended. You hate Ricky Gervais, I can’t abide Matt Lucas. She wants Andy Gray banned, he wants Russell Brand fed to the wolves. And everyone, EVERYONE would like Frankie Boyle stapled up by his goolies.

Light the torches, hand out the wooden stakes and the garlic bullets. Make effigies of Jonathan Ross and burn them on News at Ten. In the name of Mary Whitehouse, Peter Tatchell or all that’s decent and holy let’s rid society of these dreadful, dreadful people.

Alternatively, switch the sodding telly off. If enough people stop watching them they’ll soon go away. My one-man campaign to get Gavin and Stacey off the air has failed miserably because one fewer to the viewing figures doesn’t make a blind bit of difference. But if enough switch off, from Chris Moyles, for instance, one day soon those that offend your ears will be but a distant, uncomfortable memory, like Bernard Manning or Kenny Everett.

…It’s later than you think.

Coming home on the tube last night, a tad elephant’s, my pal Rob and I became engaged in polite conversation with two young(er) women sat opposite. “Whaddyerthinkoftheconcert?” poured Rob to the friendlier and certainly heavier of the two girls? “Apslootelybrillant” I burped, before she had a chance to reply. We’d been to see The Specials at Brixton Academy and, even in the cold light of a hangover, I can confirm that they were indeed apslootelybillant. The girl smiled to herself then said “Yeah, really good mate, but really odd.”
“Odd???”—I could hear some of the remaining hair on Rob’s head bristling.
“Yeah, quite funny really— we had seats upstairs in the circle and as we looked down all we could see was the light shining off the back of all the blokes’ heads down below. And when they brought down that disco ball for Nightclub it was hilarious!”.

Our bubble of euphoria had been burst by a prick of realism. The girls, who I guess would have been in nappies the last time The Specials had a hit single, had never seen so many old, balding men in one place before. The very fact we were still calling it a concert was a dead give-away to our ages. The last time Brixton had seen so many overweight men with cropped hair, jumping up and down in synch would have been her Majesty’s Finest Police Force arrested a casual bystander during the riots in the 80s. They would have have been kitted out with riot shields and truncheons, not harringtons, and underneath their stomping feet would have been a young black guy, not plastic beakers half-full of warm beer, but it’d be close enough.

I’d left the “gig” (see what I did there?) earlier and waited for Rob to exit. I thought I’d spotted him fifteen times before he actually came out— everyone looked the same— skinhead, sideburns, t-shirt, jacket—no matter the gender. The uniformity was occasionally punctuated by a pair of braces or a pork pie hat, but it really was Fat Bald Boy Day in South London.
A group of us had met up in a pub earlier in the evening, and the pattern had been set early: Harringtons, Two-Tone badges, Fred Perry‘s, staypress, bald heads. I stood out like a sore thumb (or a bald head) as I managed to wear none of these (though I was wearing Doc Martens—the only things from the time that still fit me). Oh,and a growing Pate.

GripfastWhBgThe excitement around the table was palpable. “Oh I hope they play Little Bitch“, “Is Rico still alive?”, “Is that an orignal Ben Sherman?” we were like giggling schoolgirls waiting for a Boyzone concert” (took me six minutes, just then, to think of a contemporary band—bet someone will write and tell me they no longer exist). My Ben Sherman’s have long-since become dusters, my staypress will cut me in half no longer, my Harrington was ripped off my back in a car park in Erith in 1980 when a skinhead tried to rip my head off for looking at him in a funny way. But the boys did look the business and the memories flowed, along with the Guinness.
The odd celeb was spotted— Phil Jupitus was seen going in the VIP’s entrance, and he certainly wasn’t getting into anything under a 40inch waist, and a drunk, borderline-aggressive bloke spent half the night following me around, convinced he’d spotted Ricky Gervais. I have one of those faces that is often mistaken for, variously, a copper, a bouncer, Ray Winstone (lots of street cred) and David Brent (absolutely none). One way or another, whoever I’m mistaken for, there’s always someone who wants to knock my block off. I’m like Dennis Waterman in The Sweeney: if there’s a right-hander to walk onto, me and my hooter usually oblige.

So a terrific night was had by all and as the masses of very sweaty, smelly and drunk 40-somethings made their way home there was a collective satisfaction that we had seen something very Special indeed and, for two hours, we had at least tried to re-live a time when we could dance the whole way through Monkey Man without stopping every other verse to catch our breath. There’ll be a lot of sore backs and sore heads in London this morning.

As Rob and I parted company at Blackheath Station he walked up the hill singing Enjoy Yourself to (and at) anyone who would listen. For my part, I moon-stomped through the station car park giving my own rendition of Too Much Too Young. Forgot every other word, but then it did come out a very long time ago.

Too Fat, Too Old

Too Fat, Too Old