The Tory Utopia as dreamed of by Thatcher, Major, Blair and Brown was a society where the government played as small a part in people’s lives as possible and private companies and institutions would compete to provide the population with better jobs, better living conditions, better banks, better utilities, better transport, better everything. ‘Competition’ was their mantra, in business, just as in sport the human desire to be competitive would result in cheaper and better services and, most importantly, the government could take a back seat and rake in vast personal fortunes for their pals and themselves from privatising national assets.
When Maggie eventually pops her clogs, no doubt many will celebrate and ‘rejoice’ in her demise but in truth she, like The Queen and other totems are merely puppets being manipulated by the shadowy men in the background, getting them to do their dirty work. In post-Gorbachev Russia, the gangsters moved in to snap up gas, oil and other natural resoruces straight away. They were blatant and unrepentant whereas Britain’s secret trillionaires are more adept at hiding behind mirages of national unity, identity and collectivity.
The recent corporate scandals expose the myth of unregulated competition as a force of economic or social progress. Small government doesn’t work and left to their own devices all corporations will put shareholder profits above morality, social responsibility or the law. Newscorp and Murdoch’s empire of dirt proved this most starkly. From murdered schoolgirl’s text messages to support for regime change in Iraq, Libya, Rupert will stop at nothing to make a few bob.
This has always been the way ofcourse, it’s not some new aberation. You can’t apply abstract notions of ‘morality’ to greed. With lucrative multi-billion contracts and slush funds sloshing around the ‘markets’ (who are the fucking ‘markets’ any way? ‘The markets won’t like it!’ these so-called analysts say. Well, fuck the markets and fuck you too braces tit!)
A4e recently won massive contracts to provide ‘work programme’ placements for all those being bumped off incapacity benefits, the unemployed and school leavers. What A4e and other providers do is sub-contract much of this work out to other providers and agencies who then find themsleves tied into ridiculous contracts to find people jobs in a jobless market. So, they bend the rules, break the rules, massage the figures, cheat. They place kids in ‘job’s for a few weeks, days or even hours and then claim it as a real job ‘outcome.’
This happened during New Labour’s ‘New Deal’ programme and is already happening with the Work Programme. Sooner or later as yet another year of schoolkids and degree students join the ever growing dole queue, they’ll admit defeat and re-name it something else and American style ‘workfare’ will be implemented. The League Of Gentleman’s ‘Paulines Pens’ sketch wasn’t too far away from the truth.
Likewise with G4s, they win a huge contract to deliver security personnel for the Olympics and sub-contract it out to other providers who then ‘train’ thousands of people mostly from London’s most impoversihed and racially mixed areas. In the classic Simpsons episode, ‘Mayored To The Mob’ Homer becomes a bodyguard for the mayor after completing a useless training course. The course instructor lines his pupils up and says he wouldn’t even trust any of them to guard the hated president of commy Russia but as their cheques had all cleared, they’d all passed. Again, this isn’t so far removed from the truth. Contractors get weighed in to get people through the course, bums on seats, not quality of provision. No wonder then, that many of these ‘trained and certificated’ security experts go AWOL or are unable to steward an infant school egg and spoon race.
As with all these farces, everyone blames each other because there are that many levels of sub-contractors and Quangos (remember them?) that every can point the finger elsewhere. The government blames Locog, Logog blames G4s, G4s blames the sub-contractor, the sub-contractor blames the Jobcentres and employment agencies, they blame the government and so it goes round and round.
With Barclays and HSBC, the problems are similar but on a much greater scale. Barclays blame the Bank of England for the Libor interest rate fixing scandal, the Bank of England blames the government, the government blame the regualtor, the regulator blames the European Central Bank, the ECV blames the IMF, the IMF blames the Federal Reserve, the Federal Reserve blames Mexican drug gangs, the Mexican drugs gangs blame HSBC, HSBC blame the CIA, the CIA blame the FBI, the FBI blame Mi5 and Mi5 blame that dead tranny in a North Face bag.
What is clear is that far from being a panacea for libertarian ideas of personal responsibility and the cult of the individual, small government only benefits those clever, ruthless, cunning or connected enough to make vast personal fortunes off the backs of billions of ordinary people who then pay the price of this corruption via austerity measures.
The architect for much of this banking de-regulation was former chancellor and alleged ‘socialist,’ Gordon Brown who has recently been appointed the United Nations Special Envoy for Education. This is almost as laughable as his old warmongering, blood soaked pal, Blair who became a Middle East Peace Envoy after personally de-stabilising the entire region with his fellow oil grabbing freddom fighter, George W. Bush.
Is it any wonder that people regard all politicians as self-serving, greedy liars and hypocrites? It is not we who are cynical it is those who masquerade their greed and ambition, who enrich themsleves through privatisation and wars, who turf the sick and the old out of hospital and care homes, who cut pay and pensions, who penalise the poor and the vulnerable whilst handing over trillions to their city pals who are the true cynics. Newscorp, A4e, HSBC, G4s, Barclays and me. We’re all in together.
The recent death of nine mountain climbers in the French alps only underlines the constant risk that ‘adrenaline junkies’ and adventurers face when they decide to climb, swim, cycle, dive or simply survive in the world’s most inhospitable places (and Widnes). Now, I’m not knocking them, but as a time served shithouse, the very thought of doing ANYTHING that endangers my life fills me with dread. That includes going further than ten foot up a ladder or arguing with a taxi driver.
So, hats off to those brave men and women who put their life on the line as two of those killed did, to raise money for a children’s hospice. Such a selfless act of charity should be applauded but this ‘BucketList’ bravado has its limits. My own experience of mountain climbing is limited to scaling Snowdon, Scafel Pike and Ben Nevis, not on the same day like those Three Peaks cranks but with many years in between. My experience on Ben Nevis especially made me realise that climbing even relatively small mountains (small compared to the Alps or the Himalayas at any rate) was not for me.
My brother in law, Big Al, his three potty younger brothers and myself decided to drive up to Fort William on the spur of the moment one rainy day in May 95. It was the day before the cup final between Everton and Man United and our plan was to drive up Friday, pitch up tent, get an early night, climb Big Ben in the morning and get back into Fort Billy to watch the match.
What happened was we got lost in Glasgow and asked for directions outside Ibrox stadium only to find ourselves in Paisley, then finally getting to Fort William in a haze of weed blowback in the evening. We then proceeded to terrorise every alehouse in the town before driving (somehow) to the foothills of Ben Nevis, where three of the brothers attempted to put up their tent. I got onto the back seat of Al’s Range Rover to get my head down and half way through the night decided a needed a shit. I got out, cleared my bowels and got back onto the back seat.
Waking up the next morning, the Rangey stunk of shit and Big Al wasn’t a happy lumphammer fisted man when he saw that I’d walked in my own faeces and smeared it all over his lovely leather seats. He ordered me to clean it up and inbetween puking and pissing, I wiped the back seat clean as the three younger brothers crawled from under their unpitched tarpaulin cover to cook cheapo sausages and beans for brekky. The mountain was covered in snow right to the foot where we were parked and then we set off, not as I suggested by looking for a path but by simply walking directly up the slope nearest to us.
As we got further up, it soon became clear that this was a somewhat foolhardy way to approach the biggest mountain in Britain especially when you were wearing Gazelles, not state of the art mountaineering boots. Miraculously the higher we got, the better the conditions got and so the lads decided to fuck about sliding down massive crevasses on their arses. When we eventually reached the summit after meeting nobody, and thinking we were veritable Hillarys and Tensings, we found it packed with fellow climbers, the ones with proper sticks, waterproof anoraks and ICI socks. A few even had dogs and some of them were well over 70.
The view from the peak of Ben Nevis was truly awe inspiring, the Scottish islands and highlands to the north and west in a cloudless, blue sky. Now I understood what climbers got from their ‘sport’ or ‘hobby.’ The overwhelming human desire to channel into the natural landscape and to become small in the realm of rock and snow, is something primal and has motivated humans ever since the ice age formed these peaks and valleys.
Not that Al’s brothers were that moved by this wondrous sight and we soon began our descent, following the path at first and then taking a suicidal detour to clamber down the steep, heather covered slopes with chasms of endless rock below us. As the brothers hopped, skipped and jumped like seasoned mountain goats, my fear of certain death forced me to hang back and cling for dear life and fellow walkers shouted danger warnings to us. Unpeturbed by their shouts they continued down the slope and such was the gradient, my ankles gave way on me and I had to complete the upper stages on my arse.
Eventually I caught up with them on a plateau about half way down, the rock providing us with a windbreak and it became very hot. Fuck the match, we all had a kip to rid ourselves of our hangovers and got back to base as night was falling. Rather than stay another night, Al made the decision to drive home and we took turns to steer his top of the range Rangey through the now very wet Scottish hills and moors.
Even in the rain, the Scottish landscape is profoundly beautiful and although it’s the mountains and the lochs that get all the glory, my favourite part is the desolate moorlands between Glasgow and the English border. Living in a part of the country that has towns and cities almost overlapping each other this brown and purple landscape with its low hills and featureless plains stretching to the horizon made me yearns for the border reevers, cattle rustling and Jacobite insurrection.
We arrived back home in the early hours and I slept for two days. That was the last time I climbed a mountain. Al got into it big time, doing the Atlas mountains, Kilimanjaro, the Himalayas and Mont Blanc a few times, where he got marooned for a two days in a hut with his brother (who was rattling). He said it was the scariest two days of his life, not knowing if the terrible weather would clear and wondering if they’d need rescuing.
It was near Chamonix that these climbers died when an avalanche struck and although they were all regular climbers, the tourism industry has made a virtue of such ventures. If it’s not ‘celebrity’ challenges, being taken out of your so-called ‘comfort zone’ or needlessly futile feats of endurance, then it’s self-indulgent odysseys and record breaking attempts by spoiled rich kids and their overbearing parents.
The likes of Shackleton, Scott, Amundsen, Hillary, Tensing and other true explorers and adventurers, even up to the first astronauts were truly going where no man had been before. They faced death in the pursuit of scientific and yes, commerical glory. As with most endeavors, it was the venture cpaitalists and imperialists funding these expeditions. Those who crave danger, even for noble causes or take unneccessary risks, endangering the lives of others, rescuers included, deserve our condemnation. I’m not saying this was the case in this instance but how many times have we seen the unprepared and clueless rescued from rocks and rivers, seas and cliffs as they risk death in the pursuit of kicks?
Me, I’m under no illusions and don’t feel as if I have to prove how tough I am or what I can endure. I’ve got soft hands and a dodgy gut, count me out! ‘One life, live it’ the all action man sticker says. I intend to mate.
Eva Skint, one of the poorest women in Britain was yesterday found dead in her home in Bootle. Skint’s husband, Ged Skint was later arrested and let off with a caution. Police said Skint had suffered enough and that, although he and his wife had been arrested many times for possesion and distribution of class A drugs, jailing them was no answer to the couple’s problems. Chief Constable Sir Bob Hypocrite told Swine ‘this is a tragic case. The Skint family are well known to the police in Bootle and we’ve really tried hard to help them in the past but it’s a disease isn’t it? All those burglaries and shoplifting crimes they committed were cries for help and, as a society, we all have a duty to help those who are often marginalised and stigmatised by their addictions.’
However some member sof the millionaire addict community reacted with outrage. Tarquin Top-Hatt told us ‘if the same thing happened to me and my billionaire heir chums, we’d be slammed in the chokey before you could say ‘phone daddy and get him to a word with the DPP will you Jeeves?’ It’s just typical double standards; one law for the poor and another one for the rich. Imagine if my wife and I were caught smuggling heroin and crack into say the American embassey and then a massive stash of class A drugs were found in our Chelsea mansion. Do you think the Peelers and Judge Karl Marx would pat us on the head and give us a stern ticking off? No, we’d be placed on the first boat to the colonies for 30 years hard labour. The whole thing stinks.’
News analyst, Jeff Vomit defended media coverage of the Skint case. ‘this is one of the smallest stories of the year. A heroin addict no-one cares about is killed by her poverty stricken husband in a flat in Bootle. Stories don’t get any smaller than that. It’s only right that we reflect public indifference and ignore this story at all costs. It just goes to show, you can have all the worst things in life, a brutal upbringing, a terrible education, no career prospects and a horrible place to live and still descend into a life of drugs and crime. Some people don’t know how unlucky they are.’
Members of the Bootle Smack Alliance reacted with sadness at the news. ‘You don’t expect it to happen to people who lives in decaying council flats do yer? It’s usually those posh bastards from Mayfair who drop dead or are stabbed to death by their fellars or whatever happened. It’s tragic lad, we’re gonna have a whip round on the estate to help pay for the headstone like.’
Swine tried to contact Russell Brand for a trite soundbite but the former addict was said to be too busy posturing at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting to speak to us. However Amy Winehouse’s arl fellar told us ‘this is another tragedy but obviously not as much of a tragedy as the death of my tragic daughter who tragically died before I could milk her fame for more millions. Have you read my book ‘I’m Tragic Amy’s Dad Vol 6?’
The annual BBC Reith lectures were delivered this year by Professor Niall (call me Neal) Ferguson, who can best be described as the revisionist’s revisionist. Ferguson has a far greater opinion of himself and his intellect than many other so-called ‘historians’ (or even non-academics) and plays up to his self-styled image as the unapologetic, right wing defender of capitalism and empire. Yet, like every historian, he is selective about what he chooses to applaud or what he chooses to pour scorn on.
The BBC may pretend that it’s an unbiased, non-partisan, ‘balanced’ broadcaster but this has always been a self-perpetuated myth. Watch or listen to any news programme on any BBC tv or radio channel and this lie manifests itself every day, whether that’s reporting on wars, strikes or riots. Lord Reith was the first of many BBC big wigs who created this myth and the latest DG will no doubt carry on where the likes of Reith, Moir, Birt, Dykes and Thompson left off, defending the status quo and looking towards that lucrative knighthood that’ll earn em a few bob as directors and consultants once the public funded six figure salary and expenses stops.
In this context Ferguson’s rant made perfect sense. I missed his glorification of ‘Western’ capitalism, law and institutions (as if these things only exist in the ‘west’) but caught his last ‘lecture’ which focused on ‘civil society’ whatever the fuck that is. Prof Narcissus used the parable of a beach clean up operation he’d organised in South Wales (Wales is Scotland Lite, he ‘joked’ although I was unsure if he was referring to the landscape or the culture) to pour scorn on the type of people who look towards the council or the government to do things for them, things like clean up their beaches, give them a job and educate their kids.
In Ferguson’s ‘just do it’ paradise, we are all beach cleaners, we are all bowling club members, we are all charity volunteers, we are all school governers, we are all magistrates. The decline in American and British rates of belonging to non-profit associations isn’t the fault of technology, nothing do with us watching the telly, being stuck on the internet or pressures of work (or non-work) or any of that. No, it’s because we ask too much of our government, we want to remain in a state of meek subserviance to the state, to suck nanny’s milky tit from cradle to grave.
Well, some of this runs counter to Thatcher’s ‘no such thing as society, cult of the individual’ shtick. That’s not The Big Society, weve got it all wrong. Ask not what your country can do for you! There is no such thing as ‘the state’ just as there is no such thing as ‘the public’ there are only systems and myths used to control the mechanisms for making money. Dress it how you want ‘prof’ with your stupid ‘six killer aps’ with your glorification of murder, torture, theft and slavery, for that is what ’empires’ are all about, there is only one objective for capitalists and that’s to make money. It is greed not altruism which fuels the capitalist machine.
But wait, there’s more. Fergie pitches his loopy libertarian speil at an American audience, the very kind of ‘free market entrepreneurs’ who lap this sloppy, subjective shit up. Pay good money to hear it, hand out professorships at Ivy League institutions, buy books by the shipload (printed in China ofcourse). Ferguson markets himself as some windswept teller of truths, an anti-PC iconoclast who’s just saying how it is. He thinks he’s PJ O’Rourke but he’s more PJ & Duncan, utterly bland, mainstream, vapid.
The reason why the Chinese and the Brasilians and the Indians and the ’emerging economies’ are so successful and leaving the ‘west’ behind is not because they’re hungrier, not because their economic system isn’t controlled by a tiny elite of serial fuck ups and inbred halfwits, not because they have cheap labour on tap and aren’t constrained by pesky health and safety laws and other bits of anti-business red tape. No, it’s because they send a higher proportion of their kids to private schools.
The problem with Britain isn’t that there are too many private (public) schools but there are too few according to NF. Private education isn’t elitist, its enabling as long as you have the money ofcourse but hey, Niall wants more bursaries and scholarships for ‘low income’ kids to experience this educational wonderland. If not then the academies and free schools can take the slack cos they’re freed from ‘the dead hand of local authority control.’ And into the grasping claw of profiteering maggots.
Ferguson makes the mistake of equating The Guardian with left wing politics. The ‘lefties’ don’t like him but he don’t care, he’s the real radical and they’re the real elitists. He makes a few really bad ‘jokes’ that register a few token humphs and knowing guffaws from his Scottish audience but over all his ‘lecture’ was short on anything approaching analysis or understanding, unless you count selective statistics as ‘proof’. He returns to his heroic beach cleaning operation/metaphor every couple of minutes. You picked up a few bottles and put em in a bin bag mate, get over yourself.
The ‘west’ is losing out to hyper-capitalist new economies because it bankrupted itself fighting off communism and made the fatal error of replacing manufacturing with the very type of free market zero restriction stock trading that the right believed would keep themselves rich for ever more. The west had its industrial revolution 100-200 years ago and funded it by colonialism and labour market serfdom. It no longer has the economic or military muscle to pick on the third world so it attempts to cling on to its stolen wealth via abstract market manipulation. That’s my take on it anyway so maybe I should set up my own free school and teach the kids the whole world’s a con but they know this already, the poor ones at any rate.
Ferugon’s take on history is as phoney as his put on transatlantic accent and in allowing him to spew these dangerous lies and twisted theories, these Reith lectures demonstrate just how shit scared the BBC are of upsetting their paymasters when licence fee and public funding issues still need sorting.
On my way home I turned on Radio 3 for a bit of relief from tedious djs. There was a feature on a veteran double bass playing member of the BBC Symphony Orchestra who boasted about all the countries he’d visited in his decades plying his trade for ‘Aunty’ (as only ‘Beeb’ people call ‘her’). In this age of austerity, forcing old people out of homes, cutting hospitals and schools, evicting the disabled and the poor, isn’t it good to hear that the BBC and the Arts Council continues to lavish public funds jetting out classical musicians for the benefit of a handful of wealthy music snobs. That’s not elitist however, that’s ‘culture.’
Telling yer girl don’t let yer kid go in there, it’s a secret base for the Buildabear group, they’re taking over the world by installing these tracking devices in kid’s teddies and shit, just like that bit in Spongebob The Movie when plankton puts that receiver in all the crusty crab patty buckets and turns everyone into zombies. Well, that’s what’s gonna happen with the Buildabear firm.
I’ve seen the evidence on the internet in America, they’ve got these underground bunkers where all the kids have been programmed to kill their mams and dads after the Buildabear boss, Bob Diamond plugs in his bird’s vibrator and sends a signal to all the teddies and that then transmits a beam into the kids heads and makes em go and get a big fuck off spud peeler from the kitchen drawer and gouge out their mam and dad’s eyes when they’re asleep.
Swear down girl, it’s all on there, so don’t be fooled, it looks harmless enough but look what they put in the stuffing, it’s all in Hebrew if you look dead close, secret Kabala fucking code words stuffed into kiddies toys. Sick lad! Don’t look now but the CCTV is clocking us so just pretend I’m like your fellar ok girl, they’re onto me, MI5, the CIA, Mossad, Barclays all of em girl they’re all in on it, they’ve got secret cameras outside all the Buildabear shops clocking people like me who’re trying to put people straight about what they’re up to.
I’ve got about 2 minutes before they spring Operation Silence Kenny with the SWAT mob, the Matrix, The Chuckle Brothers, Joe Anderson, Billy Butler, the bird from Countdown all of em girl, the whole Illuminati will be here any minute so I’m gonna do one OK girl? Just remember, this firm are the same ones who bumped off Princess Eugenie and Roy Orbison who was a double agent for Mossad and the KGB, that’s why he wore them shades all the time, it’s Bozo from U2 now who’s palled up with that Mossad cunt, Geldof and all his crew from the Dublin IRA Zionist grasses that poisoned Arafat with an umbrella made out of pure polony sausage from Poland.
If you get on youtube search Kenny Kicker channel and you’ll see me outside the cashpoint by Asda explaining how all the hole sin the ATMs are linked to Amazon and Facebook who then pass the PIN numbers onto the Mormons who update their database in Salt City Las Vegas then sell on the info to the Albanian mafia who pass it onto Garston college of FE and Toccy jobby to track down anyone claiming tax credits and bunking on the 86 into town.
No shit girl, I’ve seen em getting the secret briefcase from a lad wearing a big black Berghaus at JLA. I’ve heard that the CIA have made a plane made totally from semtex which they’ve got some daft Cockney muslims to fly from Moscow and do a kamikaze on Iran cos they’re gonna fit em up and claim it was Putin’s mob behind 911 and the floods in Hebden Bridge. Makes sense when yer think about it.
Bob Diamond’s just a prawn girl, he’s the bag man for the Moon jews, pumping trillions into the IMF and then charging 1876% interest like Quickquid to the Greeks and the fellar who owns Man City so they can fund their mission to Mars where there’s the biggest diamond mine in the solar system. All this shit about the Libor rate, that’s just a smokescreen girl cos the big money’s being made in China where the Triads, the Turkish smack barons and Pancake have got this massive lab under the Gobi desert cooking up tablets for the Fitz’s.
Look, if this fellar wearing a black Burtons suit and shades comes over t’yer when I’ve got off, don’t tell him nottin girl OK, just crack on I’m yer cousin cos every bird I’ve talked to in the past 3 years has been taken over to Guantanamo and waterboarded for years on end by the FBI and him out of Rambo 3, trying to get the in on me but I’m always one step ahead like Carly Simon The Coyote who killed that fellar from Allo Allo, Gordon Ramsey or whoever who was a nazi double agent working for Mossad.
If Andy Murray wins Wimbledon today and he will cos it’s all been sorted with the Swiss cheese board, that’s the secret signal OK. Bob’s Rumanian brass will switch on her dildo and all the teddys will start going mad, then watch yer eyes girl cos little Cheyna here will be suckin yer eyeballs out with a spud peeler in her little hand but don’t blame her girl, it’s the fuckin plankton from Spongebob who’s JW Henry’s double agent grass working for the Glazer family and Herbert from Herberts. OK girl, the cleaners coming, watch her, she’s got CS gas in her mop just in case it goes off. Later love.
I was flicking through the Metro this morning there was a massive ad for some whopper calling himself ‘Dynamo’who I assumed was one of these shite grime rappers who make desperate trance pop tunes with ‘yget me’ monotone rapping to give it a bit of ‘cred.’ Have these pricks never heard of Rakim? Doom? Derek B? Anyway on closer inspection Dynamo isn’t a grimer at all, he’s something even worse, a ‘street’ magician. I should’ve sussed cos the ‘a’ in Dynamo is an ace of hearts. See what he did there?
Just what the world needs, another fucking magician! Aaah, but magic’s making a come back isn’t it? The X Factor and New Faces USA are chocka with twats in tight black Burtons suits sawing their bird’s head off and pulling dead hedhehogs from baseball caps. David Blaine ofcourse re-marketed ‘magic’ from the showwbiz, poodle perm Las Vegas lights and mirrors merchants towards a more deconstructed, street level version of card tricks and elevation.
All we really had to go on was tricky camera angles and the reactions of the ‘real people; mostly hip black yoot who aren’t easily fooled by bullshit jive artists (y’dig?). ‘Shhheeyat!’ Dave seemed to float above the air, Dave caught a cap in his ass, Dave er, sat in a box for a year. Blaine’s magic soon turned into basic feats on endurance and his carefully constructed ‘enigma’ became copied by both magicians old and new. Fuck, even Paul Daniels tried to gegg in on the ‘nu magic’ craze.
The skill with magic is to be clever enough to briefly persuade people who know it’s a trick into believing it’s not. We know that David Copperfield didn’t really make the Empire State Building disappear but Al Queda really did make the twin towers disappear. That’s Al Queda the Islamist terror group not a new street magician. Ali Bongo is my kind of magician. Old Skool! Bunnys, floppy wands, funny walks, all that shit!
Magic should be entertainment first and foremost, and magicians should either develop some new shtick with whch to impress us or just accept that they are on the same level as jugglers, fire eaters and clowns. Pomposity and pretension don’t suit magic, so Blaine’s plazzy mystic routine just made him look even more of a knobhead. If he really wants to be Aleister Crowley he should take a load of acid, lock himself in the outside bog and fuck a goat for a week not walk about with a shite betty pen drawing of an eye on his palm and try to scare Eamonn fucking Holmes.
Most kids got a poxy magic kit as a Chrizzy prezzie and made the egg disappear or cut off their penis with a penknife didn’t they? Or was that just my kit? Anyway, I bet Dynamo doesn’t pluck eggs from the arse of a wooden chicken or pull miles of streamers out of a top hat. Nah, I bet Dynamo walks around the mean ghetto streets pulling cards from the foreskin of passing bizzies and stopping double decker busses by making a fucking T Rex appear out of a Pringles tin or something. Can’t wait!
I picked up a copy of Cormac McCarthy’s bleak, post-apocalyptic novel, ‘The Road’ in a charity shop’s ten bob box about 5 years ago. Until that point I’d never read anything by McCarthy and only knew of him, as most people did, through the Coen Brothers adaptation of ‘No Country For All Men.’ Reading ‘The Road’ was something of a double edged sword as his prose style is pretty unique, deliberately boring in its repetitiveness yet punctuated by profound, almost Biblical poetic interludes. It’s hard work but somehow compelling.
The story of a man and a boy called er, ‘The Man’ and ‘The Boy’ travelling across a dying, rain sodden landscape collecting tree ‘limbs’ to burn and avoiding armed gangs could’ve been played for Mad Max sci-fi cliche yet the existential, moral and practical issues that face the father and son become the stuff of real nightmares.
The son has been born after an unspecified armageddon and the father’s one mission is to keep him alive even though he knows he himself is dying and that his son will be left to fend for himself once they reach the coast, where he hopes there will some hope of salvation.
The boy’s mother has killed herself years earlier out of hopelessness and, as the pair struggle to keep moving with their few possessions shoved into a shopping trolley, they try to steer clear of killers, cannibals and other desperadoes eeking out a living in a food free world where everything is dead or dying.
It asks the question; ‘what would I do in the same position?’ and undoubtedly the answer would be to kill your kid and yourself rather than face the terrible possibility of ending up like the living but amputated human ‘meals’ they discover locked in the basement of a house. There are only a few ‘action’ sequences in the book yet this makes them even more shocking and when it was decided to make a film of the novel, I shuddered at how it would turn out.
No Country… was a very good film and perhaps one of the Coens’ best for many years but there was something missing, the poetic voice of McCarthy and this is the same problem in The Road and other McCarthy adaptations such as ‘All The Pretty Horses’. His first novel ‘The Orchard Keeper’ is a complex web of inter-connected plots and timeframes and Mccarthy’s aversion to quotation marks his dialogue difficult to follow but that’s half the fun I suppose.
‘The Road’ must’ve been a difficult film to sell to Hollywood and went through many delays before being finally released in 2009 and it wasn’t until last week that I actually watched it. John Hillcoat’s direction shifs the narrative back and forth between the immediate aftermath of the holocaust and their day to day journey across the cauterised, decaying land.
Yet, if anything the true horror of the novel is played down; the chained catamites and pregnant women who are used as sexual playthings and food producers for the cannibal gangs is completely missed out. The roasting children they find obviously points towards why these women are being impregnated and this makes the man’s dilemma even more horrific.
The landscape is captured with skill, the monotonous grey wash over everything yet in the novel, the air is filled with choking dust or ashes. The deserted towns and cities, the ruined highways and collapsing forests, the utter devastation is captured with a marvellous eye for dusty detail. In today’s Hollywood of trite re-writings and happy endings, the film stayed true to the bleak yet ultimately hopeful tone of the novel. The beetle they see hints at re-generation and recovery but it’s still dog eat dog, a world where pity and kindness are weaknesses and the only morality is survival.
Viggo Mortensen as The Man and Kodi Smit-McPhee as The Boy do a tremendous job of portraying fear and determination, the human desire to survive despite the potentially terrible consequences of this need to find hope and salvation. It’s perhaps McCarthy’s most catholic novel, the thoughts of an old man with a young son himself. There has to be light at the end of the tunnel surely? What happens when I’m not around to protect my son, who will care for him? Do I trust to God for protection and redemption or decide on life and death in a brutal world without law and morality?
After reading ‘The Road’ I read McCarthy’s ‘Blood Meridian’ which if anything is even more bleak and brutal, more poetic and profound and, as it’s based on the true story of the Indian clearances in Texas and New Mexico in the late 19th century, is even more distrurbing. It is perhaps an unfilmable novel but would make a great 3D animated film if any producer had the courage to depict the paedophile preacher Judge Holden in all his hairless, satanic glory.
Hey but I’m not really interested in all that redemptive quest for humanity amongst savagery, look at Viggo’s boss parka!