Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quis custodiet idiotas?

The wisest advice I ever received came courtesy of Nurilbek Atajanov, deputy director of the Shymkent Brandy Distillery in Kazakhstan.

"Never drink five-star Shymkent brandy," he said.

"Why not?"

"Because we don't make any."

I was reminded of Nuri, who went on to design Kazakhstan's first combination ski-slope/catwalk for spry models, when considering The Guardian newspaper and the dismal advice it proffers.

"What are you doing, considering The Guardian?" the reader might venture, knowing how pressed I am for time. The answer is that the other reader has asked whether, given that newspaper's repeated failure to advance the progressive cause, The Guardian might be part of the Welsh plot to give the English and those easily mistaken for them a bad time.

These are serious charges. Like sappers, we Elders of Capel Seion don't make more than one mistake at a time, and The Guardian looks and smells like a great big Bong full of Wrong.

I have therefore undertaken a case study of three Guardian "advices", as the K Man would have it, to assess them for signs of crypto-Cambrian cupidity.

They are:

Operation Clark County
The Liberal Moment Has Come; and
"No Pressure"

These campaigns had several traits in common, apart from the albatross of Guardian endorsement:

They backed causes close to the liberal/progressive heart
They boasted sophisticated use of the media, and
They not only failed, but possibly harmed their objects of desire.

This does indeed-to-goodness sound like Welsh work, so let us peer into the anthracite pit and see what slurry it yields. Today we shall consider Disaster Number One:

1. Operation Clark County. Not, as you might imagine, an attempt to rename Glamorgan after Clarks's excellent radioactive meat pies, but rather a Guardian campaign to persuade the cussed, gun-hugging folk of that swing country in the swinging state of Ohio to cherish the lute-like sensibilities of Liberal Europe and vote against George W Bush in the 2004 US presidential election.

If you want to influence US public opinion you'd be well-advised to enist the support of fellow-countrymen whom the average American might have heard of, such as some golfers, "House" or Mr Bean.

You'd get them to do a breezy, 30-second television ad, ending with a signoff like "This illegal campaign broadcast was brought to you by the concerned citizenry of Notting Hill and Four Weddings & a Funeraland. Have an absolutely topping one".

In practice, a hector of Darwinists, thespians and book-writin' types sent letters - actual, pen & ink letters - clattering through the peaceful post boxes of their transatlantic targets, combining insults with a solipsistic sense of injury. Americans responded with an equally predictable brace of threats, invitations to involuntary dental surgery and thanks from Republican campaign managers.

The Guardian eventually acknowledged that this was doing little to advance Senator Kerry's cause and halted the operation. The result had been a swing towards the Godly if unlettered President Bush in Clark Country, alone of all the counties of Ohio.

It was as if all the good work of cultural ambassadors like the Spice Girls, Tony Blair and Helen Mirren had been crushed under a giant statue of Terry-Thomas relieving himself into a Jesus-shaped apple pie while waving a North Vietnamese flag.

Plus President Bush was helped back in for another four years of colliding with international affairs and the banking system like a flatulent toddler.

All very good, but was it Welsh? Intense research has uncovered two apparent culprits. Droll Australian dopebaiter Tim Blair claimed that The Guardian had simply acted on his suggestion. This had itself been prompted by Guardian tentacle Jonathan Freedland's novel complaint that he and other foreigners were not allowed to vote in the US election.

(As the Mighty Professor Geras noted, Freedland didn't demand the right to pay US taxes that would usually accompany such a privilege).

The Guardian denied the Blair Thesis, but failed to name names. So could there be a Welsh collier at the bottom or it all, deconstructing the campaign coalface? My conclusion is negative.

We Welsh like to parade our peccadilloes, not sheathe them in silence. Now, with hindsight Operation Clark County might loom doomed out of the liberal fog like a Citroën 2CV at a Tennessee demolition derby, but The Guardian wasn't to know at the time that the Jihad Jocelyns and mad lady librarians with Henry V hairdos who make up their readership would outnumber solicitous Atlanticists in the Clark County mail bag.

Common sense, empirical study of the data and an element of self-awareness would have made this obvious, but, chwarae teg, we are dealing with The Guardian.

Conclusion: Welsh involvement not proven (The K Man insists on Scottish Law, modified by Norse practices)

The evidence of the 2010 UK General Election and a cinematic campaign advocating the detonation of schoolchildren in defence of the envirnonment will be considered in due course.


Francis Sedgemore said...

Chwarae teg, Cymrawd, the Groan fucked over St Julian of Melbourne good and proper, so not all bad, eh? And besides, bongs cannot be full of wrong, by definition.

Gorilla Bananas said...

Terry-Thomas was a pantomime villain, but he wouldn't have been caught dead or incontinent with a North Vietnamese flag. He loved the Americans like Caligula loved Incitatus.

I remember Stuart Hall hooting his head off when the European referee mentioned the number of "breads" each term harvested on Jeux Sans Frontieres.

No Good Boyo said...

It was indeed good to see the Graun did so, but as usual it was by accident for they had agreed to sup with the Aussie adolescent in the first place.

If he'd offered his sloppy seconds to this web blog I'd have sent him backing with a copy of Hitchens's memoirs and a Royal Wedding mug.

Bongs are a morally neutral vessel. Filled with Persian black they are a joy unto the world, but I would spurn one brimming with Earl Grey.

Apropos, some Danish neighbours came around the other day and the wife poignantly told me she thought the English only drink Earl Grey. I put her onto Glengettie right away.

GB, I was simply conjouring a image of maximal horror in terms of its impact on the Special Relationship, rather than suggesting that Tel might have behaved like a frightful shower. Sometimes you've got to push the boundaries, even in cricket.

I've long admired Prof Hall's cultural studies, but wasn't aware of his work on It's a Knockout. Duly humbled, I shall return to my library.

Anonymous said...

Don't talk to me about those Ras Clart at the Grauniad. They said I wasn't ethnic enough. Fucking cheek.

No Good Boyo said...

What were you offering to do for them, Joe, and why do I get the feeling I may regret asking that?

Gareth Williams said...

If it is controlled by the Welshes, they've found a brilliant frontman - is there anyone alive who looks more English than St Alan of Rusbridger?

Anonymous said...

It was some "new ethnic writers" thing. All the black boxes and Asian boxes had been ticked so I went in as North American Native. See what the KKK did to Granny's Granny?

No Good Boyo said...

It's true, Gaw, that St Alan is the open, eternally disappointed face of Liberal England. Like a semi-skimmed Savonarola, he laments our weaknesses without having the fire to fight them.

If we should ever emulate the Tudors, or the entire Scottish political class, and take over British politics, he would be the Austen Chamberlain to our Lloyd George.

Joe, you should have mentioned the Mandans. You'd have been a clog-in at BBC Wales.

Anonymous said...

Don't get me started on Mandans! I looked into it. No blue eyed Welsh speaking chapels in North Dakota.

Ian Plenderleith said...

Mrs. Pop, who is German, once applied for work at The Guardian, and received a reply telling her that they only gave jobs to "indigenous" candidates. We still have the letter to prove it. In fact we should have unearthed it during the risible Clark County campaign, which remains the only time I've ever felt empathy for gun-toting rednecks.

No Good Boyo said...

I try hard to like The Guardian. It has an excellent website, it's making life difficult for that snake-oil merchant Assange, and it tries to report on foreign affairs while most of its competitors have given up. But it's just irritating.

Frau Pop ought to have told them she is indigenous in Germany, or are they racists akchooly akchooly who haven't forgotten the War. She'd be editor by now, for what it's worth.

Rod Warner said...

Poor old Guardian. Worthy... but dull, Boyo... Haven't read it in years - in my local real ale boozer here in the East Midlands, one sees the local retired (from alcoholic excess for many) teachers, social workers (lord bless 'em) and scruffy adherents/remnants of the clp (their last bastion on the journey from IS/CP/WRP as the years went by, coming in clutching some new compilation cd of yesteryears' prog rock) all sat over their pints engrossed in this worthy (but dull) publication. Occasionally one will stir from their beer-induced sloth to wave a copy and point at it to other devotees - sorry, comrades. A bizarre spectacle... usually signifying the latest words of shared faith from such as George Monbiot or our dear Polly. As a drinker of strong continental lagers on the main which unfortunately provoke me into supreme waggish windups, beyond flaunting my South African Afrikaaner heritage for maximum abuse and amusementy, I have found myself turning into a strong Sarah Palin supporter of late. They don't like it up 'em... Re bongs - ah, if only... slight breathing problems these days inhibit my use of these superior pieces of equipment... jeez, where were we? Oh - fuck the Guardian and hooray for Terry Thomas... Stuart Hall admittedly an acquired taste... did he not end up on obscure late night quiz shows? He is/was the culture bloke, isn't/wasn't he?