Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Not Great Men

Grey clouds scudded across the foam of Champion's Freckled Johnson. I raised the pint to eager lips, and then to my own.

The K-Man was building an Antifaschistische Schutzgrenze of ashtrays between himself, the Dog and Fuelrod. It was lunchtime down the Tethered Goat.

Dazza disentangled his moustaches from a sandwich and sighed. "The latest Iranian Revolution is all over."

we chorused.

"U2 are supporting the Tehran protesters. It's all over."

We knew what Dazza meant. The Iranian Propaganda Ministry television documentary would write itself:

[Five minutes of Bono gobbing on, green flag in hand atop a giant speaker, while a crowd of Fanta-crazed Irish teens wonder whether the video backdrop of militant Iranian youth is the new single.]

[Dead-eyed TV announcer] Dear viewers, this ill-informed Nazarene dwarf is the foreign leader of those who would criticize our God-ordained system. We asked Professor Margbarian of Tehran's University of Occlusion to explain why...

Meanwhile, in garrets, salons and cafés throughout Iran, stormy petrels of democracy see support seep away:

"Maryam, Reza, you coming to the demo today? We've got the nutters on the run. One more push, know what I'm saying?"

"Well, I think I'll give it a miss this morning. Got a lot on, y'know."

"Whaddyou mean? Oh..., hang on. It's because of Bono, isn't it?"

"Sorry. Freedom's all very well, but I've got my rep to think of. U2, for The Hidden Imam's sake! Even my little brother was laughing at me, and he likes Steps!"

"Maryam's right. It's over, man. Bono dropped the big one."

The Revolution That Died of Shame.

The success of any political movement depends a great deal on celebrity backing, or the prevention thereof. Musicians, novelists and lingerie models are as fickle and brittle as butterflies, and must be netted gently with bright colours and primary flavours.

Take Cuba, for example. Nasty, nasty government. Doesn't like gay people, trade unions and other good things. On the other hand, also dislikes America and mobile phones. This, coupled with a good climate, memorable flag, hip-gyratin' indigenous music and a positive attitude to drinking and smoking, attracts all sorts of blues-tinged endorsements.

And learn from Nicaragua's mistakes. The Sandinistas were doing so well. They worked their way through the Cuban checklist, racked up The Clash and Billy Bragg, but then - disaster. They got the unbidden endorsement of Glenys "Bloody" Kinnock, and were swiftly ousted.

The price of power is ceaseless cultivation of your public image. One Kinnock can undo the work of a thousand Bianca Jaggers.

I witnessed a neat display of chaos deflection in Ukraine, during the Glorious Orange Revolution of 2004. Mr Yushchenko and his band of well-dentured Westernisers were set for victory:

  • The outgoing government were a bunch of malodorous Morlocks being ridden through sewers of corruption by President Putin;

  • Ukraine's decent singing stars - Talita Kum, Vopli Vidopliassova, Ruslana - were all Orange, while Ukraine's singing dinosaurs - Taisia Povaliy, Iozif Kobzon, Natasha Mogilevskaya - were for the evil old Commies; and

  • The Orangemen had a snappy anthem, decent PA systems and wives who didn't look like they'd service you in a pedestrian underpass for a fistful of dried fish.

I was having a drink one evening with an influential pro-Orange music producer (yes, I both rock and roll) when he received a worrying phone call:

"Bono and Sting want to big up the Orange Revolution on MTV."

"Oh God, can you stop them?"

"No, but I can divert them."

There followed some spectacular telephonic ego-massages, which amounted to persuading the publicists of the Leather-Trousered Ones that they did have an important role to play in Ukraine. But that role didn't mean endorsing one side or the other in a "difficult, nay explosive situation", but rather in issuing a sober call to calm.

Only one thing is more attractive to pop singers than being La Pasionaria, and that's being Secretary-General of the UN. Understated, measured, classic, like a good suit.

Sure enough, these absurd minstrels gazed solemnly into the MTV cameras and said they hoped the people of Ukraine, both black and white, would resolve their differences through over-amplified jangly guitar riffs and cod-jazz sung in a vaguely insulting Jamaican accent.

We had gazed into the abyss, but its denizens had put their shades back on and splashed off in pursuit of shinier prey.

This is a lesson that we in the Cymru Rouge have learned well. In the event of a British Socialist Revolution, this is the advice we shall offer to our struggling comrades in Bragggrad (formerly London):

At first world opinion will be with you. The break-up of the big estates, the expulsion of the Windsors (apart from Prince Andrew's fun-loving daughters), the closure of US air bases, the adoption of the bass-line of "The Guns of Brixton" as the national anthem - everyone loves this sort of stuff.

But then things will get trickier. The reconquest of Ireland, the jailing of all Guardian and Independent journalists under the repressive "Git Laws", the numerus clausus on Scotchmen in the National Assembly and BBC, compulsory independence for Wales - these will trouble bien-pensants and editorial writers throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

That's when you carry out your masterstroke. Bono and Sting will declare their support for the Revolution, and fly into Aneurin Bevan (formerly Heathrow) International Airport, possibly in aeroplanes, to do their bit for the People. You will have them summarily shot on the runway, and send their Amazonian tribal singers back home to tell the tale.

Cut to plush apartments in Le Marais, Manhattan, and Malmo:

"There's a demo outside the British Embassy this afternoon. Free Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, that sort of thing. You coming?"

"Not sure."

"What! The imperialists are stealing the Revolution! It's like Cromwell all over again. We've got to stop them through the deployment of placards, and we've got to do it NOW!"

"Yeah, I know they're bastards and everything, but they did shoot Bono and Sting, didn't they."

"Yeah, they did do that... Maybe they need a little time to let things settle down."

"Some breathing space."


"...I heard Bob Geldof's off to London soon."



Gorilla Bananas said...

Iranian lads are definitely breast men, so maybe Bono thinks he's a big enough tit to appeal to them. I suspect Jordan's endorsement would be far more inspiring. She may even get some of the beardies to change sides.

Mrs Pouncer said...

Too true, GB. I once had a hideous job. It was delivering birthday cakes around London. I was sent to SOAS with an enormous sponge for some ribald Iranian twins (men). Sniggering, they said gateau was all very well but they'd prefer some of my koufteh Tabrizi next time. Gits.

Gareth Williams said...

Hugely insightful, Boyo.

Just one thing to add. I was brought up to believe, as I'm sure were many of your readers, that the fly-like Bono and mantis-like Sting are twin insectoid devils, modern day incarnations of Beelzebub and the Khoi Mantis God respectively.

So your analysis, whilst possessing great explanatory power, comes as little surprise.

Francis Sedgemore said...

"U2 are supporting the Tehran protesters. It's all over."

Looks like I've been wasting my time. Again. Can I sue the feckin gobshoyts?

The Drinker said...

The finest analysis of the Iranian, willtheywon'ttheyalotion I am yet to read.

I used to have a lovely time in an Iranian owned kebabbery (called Goldman's of all things) on Birmingham's fine Five Ways. My gang of four were quite the regulars and got to know the proprieters who would happily recount happier days when Terhan was party-central and champagne flowed through the very drains. They were kind enough to allow us to join them in building a tower of empty pizza boxes atop the heads of two sleeping customers one night and a Rastafarian gave me my first taste of Jamaican overproof rum when he asked me to suck on his cock.

I thought of them during the recent hoohah.

Anyone interested in the further works of Mr Bono (I think you're being hard on him, after all his appearance at Live Aid surely ended poverty and hunger in Africa, didn't it?), might like to visit, http://www.boycottliberalism.com/Bono.htm where you'll find such as:

"When the potatoes ran out, millions of Irish men, women and children packed their bags got on a boat and showed up right here. And we're still doing it. We're not even starving anymore, loads of potatoes. In fact if there's any Irish out there, I've breaking news from Dublin, the potato famine is over you can come home now. But why are we still showing up? Because we love the idea of America."

Gadjo Dilo said...

Bono is an evil beyond even what this pathetic world of ours deserves, but U2's masterplan here is The Edge - just look at his headgear, designed to cover his natural, hormone-enraging beauty better than any ḥijāb or taqiyah; when he takes it off Iran will be theirs.

Dewi Harries said...

Bass line of Guns of Brixton as National Anthem - fantastic idea..Make it the whole song ."When the knock on your front door how you gonna come? With your hands on your head or on the trigger of your gun.."

The Drinker said...

Isn't Mr The Edge a proud Welshman, from Swansea I believe?

Brit said...

Although I will oppose your Bragggrad revolution with every ounce of strength and fibre of my being, I admire your dash, NGB.

Where are Annie Lennox and Coldplay's Chris Martin in all this?

No Good Boyo said...

Didn't know about the Swansea link, but The Edge is definitely a Welsh. Born to Ystlymen and Gwenhwyfar Dibyn and christened "Y" (meaning "The"), he anglicised his name when they moved to Ireland. He ought to have Gaelicised it, of course, to become An Bruach, but that's U2 for you.

Lennox and Martin are the driftwood that bobs in the wake of U2 et al. I diskard them.

Drinker, sounds like you stumbled - literally - across a happy corner of Brum that will be forever Tehran 1975.

I was impressed by the way Rastas would take the odd break from smoking giant funnels of weed by slugging on a refreshing pint of over-proof rum. That's a religion I could relate to if I weren't bald. A dreadlock skullet fringing my pallid features would be an offence to Jah.

Your description, Gaw, explains much about Sting's notoriously baroque mating practices.

Mrs P, I have happy memories of the cigarette machines down the SOAS bar, where the prices were always c1984. This was wasted on the students of that institution, who were buffoons to a man and remain so.

Gyppo Byard said...

Mrs P - SOAS. You'll be unsurprised to read I was there as a grad student. No Good Boyo is well aware that I was, which I fancy lies behind his dismissal of that excellent institution and its suave, erudite alumni.

Boyo was attached to the weirdo college of crepuscular vampirism and vodka studies across the alleyway, who - surprisingly lacking a bar of their own - frequently slouched across to take advantage of ours. They stuck out like sore thumbs...

No Good Boyo said...

I'd quite forgotten you were there, Gyppo, but postgrads count as a species apart having already studied something with a degree of success.

We did have our own bar, in a statuesque building on Russell Square. And very grim it was too.

I drank in the Bird in Hand, Handel St.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Ach, what a bliss. Only a suggestion: jailing is too good for Guardian and Independent journalists. Same with summarily executing them. Some new form of perdition should be invented, but I am not sure what it will be.

P.S. In a hardly related move, I have translated something that, I suspect, could be of some interest to you:



No Good Boyo said...

Thanks Snoop, that is all new to me and fascinating too. As the former far-left bed-hop with neo-Fascists and Islamist nutters do they abandon the Redskins and Irish republican songs for the alpenhorn and oudh? It would make their meetings marginally more interesting.

Perdition for our rotten liberals is to see their ideas vanquished by common sense. Spending an evening in a pub, riding a bus through Peckham or asking a Cairene taxi driver who did 9/11 ought to do the trick.

Or else just call me naive.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Pity Joanna Lumley was tied up in Nepal. She could reduce Ahmed in a jacket to a gibbering jelly.

xerxes said...

Do you have to be a revolutionary to shoot Bono Boyo? If not, I'll be in the firing squad, the one on the right.

No Good Boyo said...

Daphne, there is a law against using the words "Joanna Lumley", "tied up" and "jelly" in the same post. It's called the Diana Rigg Law, and it's there for a reason.

Just count yourself lucky that you live in Brussels and only have to think of Nick Griffin to banish all wholesome thoughts.

Inky, whatever your subjective reasons you would have carried out a revolutionary act.

Note from my legal adviser, the K-Man: "Nae Guid Boyo disnae endorse the murrrder o Taigs or ainy ither Fenian duggs. De minimis, y'ken?"

Gyppo Byard said...

Suitable punishment for Guardian/Independent types: Make them go and live out their lives in whichever oppressed, fle-ridden Stalinist satrapy they last said was better that Britain. (As WS Gilbert put it: "The idiot who praises in enthusiastic tone/All centuries but this one and all countries but his own..."

Boyo - are you sure that was the K-man? That makes sense. Sort of.

The Drinker said...

I read the Graun, and indeed have written for it, freelance only so I'm not a Guardian journalist and have never met one. Why, of all the journals are the Farringdon ffuckers chief of your hate-list? I thought all hacks could be tarred with the same feelthy brush. I should make it clear that I think nowhere is better then Splott - Tirana? Tosh! Havana? Hah! Paris? Pah! Noo York? Norks! You to Splott? There's lovely.

Is it true that Dame Shirley was really a Splottian, but The Girl from Tiger Bay sounded better?

Andy Kershaw on U2 - You could deliever fridges through the spaces in The Edge's guitar sound.


No Good Boyo said...

Ditto, Gyppo. And that's a literal transcript of what the K-Man said. He'd won in court with the "Deakin Defence" and so was on top form.

Drinker, Troubled Kershaw had a way with words, if not the ladies. And he continued John Peel's glorious tradition of annoying Radio 1's glum indie listeners by playing lots of jolly African music.

All I know is that Shirl (official model for Siân Owen, the Welsh equivalent of Marianne on Cymru Rouge currency) was born not made.

Here's La Owen, while we're at it:


As a Maoist I expect nothing better from the rightwing press, but the Guardian/Indy left is a constant source of disappointment. When they're not drooling over God-based religions they're reminiscing about the Titoite revisionists. There's little for the hemp-clad Welsh peasant to read in their pages in the brief interval before full illiteracy is achieved.

The Drinker said...

Time to follow the Shining Path Boyo.

No Good Boyo said...

Welsh Maoists follow the Llwybr Llech, goboi.