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21 Nov 2011

Post 317: Should I not care about other people liking vacuous crap??

I probably need to be starting this with a couple of apologies which'll come in a bit, but I thought we'd better start with a laugh! I've always loved having a go at Australians because they're always having a go at us and this really tickled me: As much as when Derek (a Nurse in my last hospital ward) gave me a demonstration of his elementary Swedish, the fact that Swedes aren't lying around kicking themselves in puddles of their own drool is a miracle to me. The Swedish Chef
from the muppets is funny, but the actual Swedish language is killer. ANY swedes reading I would be sorry for my lack of sang froid but I used to work with a swedish guy who was so unpleasant because he took himself so seriously that I fear a large proportion of the Swedish people maybe like him (except the ones who look like Britt Ekland!
Oh god where was I? Taking the piss out of the Australians. Here you go (I dare you not to laugh) -
The apologies I was in the middle of making: 1.This wasn't up first thing monday morning (for reasons I'll explain) 2.It's so bloody long. I appear to have an attack of verbose diarrhoea, it just sort of happened I spent most of sunday writing and even though I knew full well in the morning I was supposed to be going out in the evening, to Jeremy Paxman's
book launch at the Richmond Theatre
when my lift and compatriot showed up it felt like I had no idea. This has happened several times and must be an impact from the Stroke. My mind is playing annoying tricks on me. As it was it was a very interesting evening with Paxman talking us through his book about The impact the British Empire has had on us as a nation. Well timed as I am in the middle of an anti-vacuous crap drive. My ally for the evening was my former housemate and now Tory MP for somewhere in Suffolk, Matt Hancock.
It rather throws me to think that I'm here blogging and he's sitting in the house of Commons. Anyway I was rather impressed by the wily old silver fox who talked through the book
in the first half and threw it open to questions in the 2nd half. People seemed keen to get his predictions for the future, and he seemed very reluctant to chance his arm saying that he was just a journalist, Writing this book makes him a historian as far as I'm concerned, and the type of guy who's always going to be asked his view on what's going to happen. Being interested in this sort of sh*t is bound to make some think 'pretentious b*stard' Think what you like – I have to find things to do that don't make me feel grubby and suit the people who can take me. My goal is to find a partner who'll want to go to the type of things we'll both like half the time, I'll take my friends the other half. Does that sound like a reasonable plan? Anyway this was the original starting point. I had been thinking of writing this post for ages – One of the things that seems to frustrate me is the amount of time many of my close friends whose intelligence I respect spend a lot of time caring about vapid things, it does feel like my purpose in life is laughably these days to spend time on facebook and get in unwinnable arguments which is no bloody good and not a life to be proud of, again it seems to be one of those things that gets filed under the burgeoning heading 'Something to do'. In the days when I used to be able to live life normally, going on bulletin boards or social networking was frowned upon by some of my friends, if not banned completely by work, so using those sort of websites was either a stealth exercise or something confined to non-work hours. Well, in my last few jobs before my stroke I had sworked out that companies were pretty sharp on pornography
and not much else, and if bulletin boards and social networking have taught us anything it is that we like chatting to our friends more than anything else. I used to spend what was probably a 'sackable' amount of time chatting to my friends and winding up idiots on a clubbing bulletin board because that was where my mates were and somehow I also did my work. What I do know is my work probably would have been better and more voluminous but somehow I never got more than the occasional dissaproving look from my boss and co-workers. It's quite simple really, as long as you balance the amount you 'take the p*ss' with doing a good job you'll be ok. The advent of facebook must have been a nightmare for global productivity. I remember being visited in Hospital by a friend of mine from John Lewis, in fact, a glorious girl who used to work for me called Harriet (now happily married and sprogged up with a lucky b*stard).
She said the immortal line 'everyone tries to get away with logging onto facebook' and if you can believe it I said 'what's that?' and I wasn't delirious or being facetious which is rare for me. Anyway – looking back on that it really explains to me how chatting to our friends is what we want to do, the majority of good memories (not a large cache)of my time in hospital were when friends came to see me, what we (humans) enjoy doing with our time is not swimming with f*cking dolphins, it is spending time with our friends. I have lost count of the number of dating profiles that say 'I enjoy spending time with my friends' obviously what they are too scared to say 'I enjoy spending time with my enemies, noting their weaknesses and plotting their downfalls' To be honest you don't see a lot of that! I've gone off on one -where was I? Ah,yes. Annoyingly, having paid gainful employment is what gives our life a purpose and that purpose is to earn enough money to live and keep up with our peers and friends. My life wasn't cheap. I had a pretty big mortgage, neither DJing and clubbing were cheap things to like, I probably ate out/ordered in too much, my girlfriend had a well paid city job which meant more expenses (funny how that happens) and on top of all this it's difficult to shakeoff the fact that London can often be 'take the piss' expensive. Luckily, I loved my job and I earned enough to afford that life. The job was challenging and I loved working for John Lewis – I think if I'd had been at one of my earlier jobs for longer the weakness in my brain would probably have haemorrhaged earlier, so, I have pretty much decided that my stint at JL enabled me to have a decent 2004-5 but a chance at post-stroke life too. I'm sure I've probably said all this before but if anything's worthy of repeating. this is. Anyway where was I: Yes, my lack of patience with vapid, stupid things. See for yourself, I wrote this on facebook early last week: “Is dissapointed at the popularity of some rubbish things (particularly when they get defended by intelligent people) 1. x-factor 2. Football 3. Eastenders 4. Snow Patrol and this isn't just taste - it should be objective fact. OK, so I don't think I can set what is Objective fact, I just strongly believe these things and at the time I was feeling confident -sometimes I think 'Why don't you just leave it Dom? In fact should I just leave it? A little later a friend of mine quite rightly pointed out “Nothing wrong with being intelligent and watching rubbish things - it's called entertainment. It is only a problem when you start watching TV instead of doing the things you should really be doing. That is so right, but 'in for a conversationally awkward penny, in for a socially crippling pound'[a genius phrase from my favourite Comedian Daniel Kitson ] my further objection is that people start having opinions about these things as if it's an important cornerstone of the quest for moral truth. Maybe I'm being a Killjoy who needs to embrace a new golden age of vacuous crap but Things are bad enough *thanks* without accepting that a bunch of awful people have so much influence on our thoughts and tastes. Maybe I ought to care more/(or is it less) about 'pop culture'?. My position has never been 'it's popular therefore it must be good'. The last thing I'm trying to do is be 'contrary' or 'alternative' People who are like that are almost without exception dicks. I don't pretend to know what's 'right' or 'wrong', I'm just trying to be helpful. I hope that I can't easily be run rings about (which is ironic given that next doors nine year old can ACTUALLY do just that). My time is instead spent exploring culture from a fairly cynical viewpoint i.e. with Xfactor I don't see any talent. I see Simon Cowell
saying 'excellent' and wringing his fingers like Mr Burns
except it's not funny I only let my self get involved with popular culture which has some actual talent or substance behind it. Take TV, I've almost always avoided Soaps or 'Talent shows' or things like Football which has so many reasons for me to actively hate it rather than passively dislike it (being passive has pretty much always been the default position that you should have until you're convinced enough to commit yourself to the firing line where 'the firing line is a euphemism for a place where people can't resist disagreeing with you (usually aggressively online)(maybe it's just me). If I get sucked in at all by TV it's for decent comedy or drama series, I just can't do soaps. Is there anyone in Eastenders I can actually relate to or actually imagine being friends with? I'm afraid the answer is no. They're all the sort of scum who'd say -Oi, who you looking at? The answer is: I'm sorry, they don't label sh*t like you. I have a similar issue with a couple of the drama series I watch. The first is the Sopranos (which I briefly talked about (here) I watch it because it's well acted and well written and unlike Eastender's you can imagine their emotions but sadly like Eastenders I find myself really disliking all the characters (even more than Eastenders because they all speak so aggressively to each other and there are a few characters who are unbelievably nasty pieces of work: 1 Tony Soprano:There's no warmth to his character at all
2 Paulie, Just because of the way he shouts, swears and grimaces at everyone, he's also thick too, badmouthing Snakes because they're sometimes Hermaphroditic 'how could you ever trust something that could literally 'go f*ck themselves' – unflappable logic and intelligence there
3 Silvio – As nasty as Paulie -says less but grimaces more
4 Carmella Soprano – apart from being more of a stereotype Italian-American blonde lady than you can imagine (big hair, permanently wearing a shiny shoulder-padded trouser suit she spends all her time worrying about and nagging her kids about whether they are they educationally, culturally or socially 'doing the right thing' when it's blatantly obvious her husband is a gangster.
No wonder it's depressing viewing. I could go on but I think the point is made, I know it's only TV but I think it's safe to assume that the Mafia are nasty b*stards, Eastenders are to but not as murderous. I'm not sure I'm going to bother with The Soprano's for much longer because there's no single character you really feel you can support or get behind. I have recently watched all 8 seasons of Entourage (previous thoughts ), a comedy-drama followingly the lives and loves of a fictional A list actor Vincent Chase (based on Mark 'Marky Mark' Whalberg)and his hangers on).
The show has been tagged as 'Sex and the City' for blokes and this is where I'll play my 'it's vacuous but it's entertainment' card. It's funny the way they take the piss out of each other and from time to time it is touching the things that they do for each other but I have my criticisms which I've written about before, but I was talking about them with friend (and fellow Entourage fan) Oli
and I said it pissed me off that Vince, despite earning $1m+ per movie couldn't even be arsed to get out of bed or answer his phone himself. Again I know it's only TV but there are probably people who behave like this. My point ended with a flourish 'it just annoys me the way he needs help to do things'. Oli shot back instantly shutting me up 'isn't that a bit ironic'. It is of course but at least I need the help. It kills me that I can't help myself. But at least help is mostly there when I need it. At least I do get to go out, although this week I won't be my usual positive(!) and complimentary self about the gig I went to although catching up with old mate Simon Champ was a pleasure. He is an interesting and charismatic bloke, whose northerness and continued association with the city I can forgive purely because of his storytelling ability and his sense of humour. On Wednesday we went to the Brixton Academy to go and see a band that were bigger than big in the 90s - the Smashing Pumpkins. On paper this looked awesome, but in actuality it was quite sh*te, Champ, a veteran of many gigs, even revealed to me on the way there that he had seen 90s indie rockers James 34 times(!) in his life and he'd been to the 'last ever' Smashing Pumpkins gig in South Africa in 2000 ( bands are always doing this 'last ever' crap). I went to two 'last ever' gigs by A-Ha , 1 in October 2010) and the other in November 2009 ) - mad. What helped the evening was the imagined attractiveness of the bassist,
imagined because of my rubbish eyesight (but proved when I looked her up on the internet) .
Call me shallow, but at the end of the gig I was going out through the bar when this blonde angel came up to me and asked me what I'd thought and just wanted to see me smile. Incidents like that lift my heart and make life worthile.God she was pretty and smelt so nice! Musically, it was just a weird gig, the Smashing Pumpkins were always quite dark and heavy but this has never been a substitute for the odd tune – even heavy metal bands know that. Here is conclusive proof that it failed to capture the imagination of the place
and Champ is probably looking so sleepy because he has to get up at ridiculous O'Clock to get to work in the City which must be just awful at the moment as uncertainty about the survival of the Euro means nobody is trading or willing to invest in anything European. So, from a sh*te music gig to a slightly below par comedy gig. On Friday my legend of a Uni mate Guy took me too a charity comedy show at the Hammersmith Apollo called 'laugh or the Polar Bear gets it'
organised by a brilliant young comedian called Dan Antopolski who I had seen quite a while ago in April 2009 -Ostensibly, this was a show in aid of 'friends of the earth' a charity/pressure group with a decent message who are probably just a bunch of unkempt time wasting idealist anarcho-hippies trying to keep warm huddled around a computer, or maybe I'm being unfair or cynical. Anyway, an enormous man who's having an enormous year Greg Davies
did a creditable job as compere introducing some rather varied acts. First up was Richard Herring who I've seen several times at several charity comedy gigs. It doesn't matter that it's been over several years, the jokes are still the same – I suppose you don't expect Paul McCartney to sing ABBA (and nor should you EVER) so it sort of makes sense, but the piece de la resistance was Tim Minchin
whose piano talent alone is worth the ticket price. After a bit of his typical fractious stand up he did his Pope Song whose sentiment I broadly agree with but still maintain it is the thing I'd least like to see with someone who is easily offended. My other takeaway from this and other events is I'm still a little perturbed that of all the events I go to I have rarely not been the most disabled person (why do you think there are so few pictures of me on here?) On the brightside (lightside?) I seem to be one of the few people in a wheelchair who has kept some control of their weight. I would hazard a guess (a very un PC one) that the main reason the other wheelchair user at the Apollo was in a wheelchair was that she was overweight. Does anyone else think this is wrong? And not just me saying this, the reason I am saying it was her carers (yes, there was more than 1) were bringing her chocolate and snacks to tuck in to during the show. The next time somebody tells me or implies I'm not trying hard enough because I've been convinced walking again is beyond me I'll remember my self imposed diet, giving up sweets, puddings and giving up eating between meals. I'm no supermodel, and bulimia will never be an option. All I know is I can still laugh despite there not being much to laugh about, and vacuous crap can f*ck off.

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