Monday, August 30, 2010

Revolution: Televised

The BBC autumn television schedules will shortly sidle up, chalk an ominous "M" on our overcoat and move on unnoticed through the broadcast spam.

It's time to offer some creative solutions to help the BBC counter its critics' most common - in every sense of the word - charge that it is politically correct and consensual, like some sort of gay, Obama-admiring test-tube offspring of Butler & Gaitskell.

So, before the House of Boyo heads back to Wales for a week of mushroom interface and owl baiting, here are my suggestions for some primo programming:

1. Pride or Prejudice. You, a bigot, have a choice. Either set out your views to the audience, possibly armed and made up of the object of your ill-considered scorn, or tell it to a pride of lions.

This week, the Sunday Times's gin-shy food bully A "A" Gill dons a kilt and has a full and frank exchange of bones at the Meibion Glyndŵr annual tombola and fundraiser (pensioners, children, Monmouthshire - half-price), and is then fed to the big cats anyway.

Filmed in Belarus, where this sort of thing is either legal or at least cheap.

2. Boundary Commission Question Time. Like regular Question Time, except that the panel is made up of MPs who will lose their seats through This Glorious Coalition of Ours's planned constituency cut'n'shut. They've been in the Green Room since teatime and don't give a Manxman's elbow for the wet-cheeked "opinions" of the producer's mates' bedfellows in the studio audience, and are ready to say so at great, vivid and drunken length.

3. Vanderpump & Wellbelove: Porn Detectives. Bent Vanderpump and Trixie Wellbelove are a couple of Dutch hardcore stars who incidentally solve crimes by using insights gained from years in the porn industry.

Episode 1: The Whacker Man. Filmed on Anglesey. "We'll be loving the both of you".

4. Shmooks. The BBC's hit spy series "Spooks" goes to the real Middle East, where Alexei Sayle, Tom Paulin, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Lauren Booth are kidnapped from the Beirut Book Festival by al-Qaeda bad hats who nonetheless have a refined sense of irony.

Only Israel's Mossad can save them, and our heroes have to decide whether to boycott their own rescue. May contain scenes of pseudo-liberal angst and some naches.

5. One Man and His Dyke. A Jeremy Clarkson/Littlejohn/rugger bugger tries to persuade a lesbian that it's time to get back on solids. And we mean a real Diesel, not one of those BBC2 costume-drama waifs. May end in the Clarkson type breaking down and confessing to unspeakable urges towards Kelly Jones out of The Stereophonics. He's dreamy.

6. Baboons in a Room. This idea comes courtesy of The Dog of Decei(p)t and Hypocrisy. Just baboons, in a room. This week the baboons' guest is Polly Toynbee.

7. It's My Dream Home, So You Can Fuck Right Off. (Courtesy of Dazza.) The BBC gives a member of the public (Dazza) a wodge to do up a castle/villa in a warm part of Europe where taxes are something that happens to other people.

A year later Dazza sends us a postcard, with his guard dogs and Maltese heavies featuring prominently. We get the picture. Followed by studio discussion about accountability and the Licence Fee.

8. "Long" Jack Lang. The new UN piracy adviser stars in a Mogadishu-based dark comedy, much against his will. Also stars Captain Ahmed's Crazee Bastards. May lead to spin-off series featuring Captain Ahmed and a mermaid fashioned from the remains of Lang.

Over to you, readers.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


This is a momentous day for all Welsh and conspiracy theorists, not to mention the free people of Australia. For in that mulleted land on the outer edge of the earthly disc has the fearsome Welsh Lobby faced its sternest task.

Readers of this web blog will be aware of the sheer slate power of the Elders of Capel Seion, the cabal of chapel-goers, eisteddfod adjudicators, thirsty sopranos and plum-faced newsreaders who have screwed up every English political endeavour since the Battle of Morfa Rhuddlan.

No Good Boyo's new friend, the moderate Scotchman Hyperbore, has recently drawn the attention of a world struck mute with horror to Wales's internationalist mission to spread political misery where ever English and other non-Welsh languages are spoken.

He notes that the WikiLeaks revelations that civilians die in wars in Afghanistan just as elsewhere stem from one Bradley Manning. Although a US citizen born to English parents, young Bradley spent his youth in Wales - long enough to be recruited as a sleeper agent.

He joined the US Marines, gathered his documents and, when the moment came to sabotage the Anglo-American plot to impose social democracy on the happy helots of Herat, Bradley unbuckled his belt.

What other evidence is there of Cambrian confusion abroad? Consider the following:

1. The Confederate States of America had everything going for them. Easily defensible territory, a cautious US Congress, excellent military leaders and the tacit support of much of Europe. So who did they choose as their one and only president? Jefferson Davis, whose family hailed from Glamorgan.

The South might as well have burned down Atlanta itself and saved everyone three years of having their balls blown off.

2. Somalia had the makings of a successful state, believe it not. Unlike much of Africa it has an homogeneous population, convenient location on modern trading routes, decent ports, a proper alphabet and a thriving market in the export of glamorous models. The plucky Somalis even managed to oust their dictator Siad Barre all by themselves.

Then along came General Hersi Morgan, who combined the military efficiency of his father-in-law Barre with a devotion to famine and pestilence to rival that of any Horseman of the Apocalypse. The Somalis have not managed to hold a government together since, too preoccupied are they with avoiding al-Qaeda, the Ethiopian Army, pirates, Ridley Scott and one another.

3. Staying in Africa, take a look at Zimbabwe. Comrade Bob is no Welshman, as far as I know, but our ways are more subtle than that. Knowing what it's like, we assumed the International Community would press President Mugabe to cut a deal with the opposition rather than send in the brace of French paratroopers it would take to topple him.

Enter Morgan Tsvangirai and the rather obvious Welshman Ncube. Don't expect Mr Mugabe to be retiring any time soon.

4. Indeed, you could say that Africa's entire ghastly colonial experience came down to a Welsh. Dr Livingstone was as lost as a fisherman in Fortnum's and faced certain death by Mau Mau when he was rescued by Henry Morton Stanley, a hack from Denbigh who specialised in being a literal bastard on three continents.

The ensuing publicity stoked the Scramble for Africa, blighted the place with Bibles, and gave Stanley the chance to resume the career of killing black people that his capture and defection from the Confederate side had cut short during the American Civil War. His sole act of humility was to cede to King Leopold II of the Belgians not only the whole Congo but also the title of Worst White Man of the 19th Century.

Wales has tried to compensate Africa by adopting Lesotho, the only case of one country twinning with another, but we still get Christmas cards addressed to Mr Kurtz.

5. We have not neglected the lesser continents, either. South America seems relatively Waliserrein, apart from the agrarian simpletons of the Chubut Valley in Argentina. These religious pastoralists resented the way science, the telegraph and life-long teeth were ruining their traditional ways in Bala, and so set off for what they thought would be a verdant Eden in the Pampas.

They managed to turn the shrieking rocks and numbing desert that Buenos Ayres had sold them into a fair copy of Cardiganshire, but hopes of autonomy met the same fate as any attempt to rule Latin America that didn't involve ridiculous peaked caps and misuse of the power supply.

The Welsh of the Wladfa, as we call the Chubut colony, avenged themselves on the grim gauchos, though but. The Argentine junta's last gamble was the Falklands grab of 1982, a debacle that led to the election of Raul Alfonsín (a Welsh Foulkes on his mother's side) as president.

Good show, you might say, democracy and all that. Except that Alfonsín, in blazing a trail for the free market and constitutional rule, set up the liberal movements throughout the continent for a fall. Their European sensibility and advocacy of civil society clearly rankled with the Latin soul, as the voters whom they had freed soon ousted them in favour of lunatics, rabble-rousers and mini Castros.

Hell, even the Sandinistas made a comeback.

6. Our impact on Asia seems slight, but consider the heroic work of Agent Anna Leonowens (née Edwards). She encouraged the King of Siam to reform his country to such an extent that he was honoured with a musical, no doubt to the delight of the ladyboys of his elegantly debauched realm.

Again, what's not to like? But Anna's target was not the fragrant Thais, but the neighbouring British and French empires in India and Indochina. A strong Siam frustrated their efforts at expansion. Britain would have ruined their cuisine and the French their womenfolk. Instead they had to make do with Burma and Cambodia, countries renowned for their beastly food, absurd languages and razor-toothed, truculent beldames. In these respects they were a little reminder that Wales is never far away.

7. Even Europe is not immune. Literacy, the Code Napoléon and any sort of plumbing has kept the Welsh out of Charlemagne's patrimony, but the lost lands of Byzantium and the Third Rome are ripe for wrongdoing.

So far we've managed one success. The Orange Revolution in Ukraine was always going to be a disappointment, given the mediocrity of President Yushchenko and the mendacity of his prime-ministerial nemesis, Madame Tymoshenko, but its solid achievement of a free press, democratic process and the rule of law ought to have outlived it.

Not with President Viktor Yanukovych in power, I'm afraid. This carp-brained golem would have been nothing without the backing of the colliery oligarchs of Donetsk - a city and industry founded by, and once named for, Welsh coal baron John Hughes. Soon the proud Cossacks will envy their Belarussians neighbours to the north, with their abundant swamps, radiation and carefree inbreeding.

8. Which brings us back to Australia. This model of sturdy democracy and constitutional progress was dragged in and out of war by Billy Hughes, an Antipodean Lloyd George who cast parties and policies in his wake like teeth on a rugby pitch. The only parliamentary group he didn't wreck in his endless political career was the Country Party, which he could count on to continue his cussedness long after he had descended cackling into Annwn.

The Australians are a generous folk, and their Labor Party decided to give Wales another chance when it chose Julia Gillard, a russet Kinnockette from Barry, as its leader all of two months ago.

The result of Saturday's snap election, as Hyperbore further wrote, shows that she turned a ten-point poll lead into a double defeat - not only are Labor in second place behind the Liberal Party, but with no overall majority it looks like Australia will be run, Israeli-style, at the whim of nutjob independents.

Shall we weep, like Alexander, with no more worlds to conquer? Not while Antarctica lies untaffed, and possibly English planets wink in the Welsh sky. Mae'r Anghenfil yn y Lloer.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Friend Highball

"Civilisation is an exercise in self-restraint," intoned Senator William "I hate you, Butler" Yeats, Irish poet and statesman. Wise words, and rich ones too coming from a man who wrote marching song for Franco reject Eoin O'Duffy's Blueshirts and spent his last years having unnecessary surgery, monkeying around with young ladies and dying, predictably enough, in France.

Yeats's ghost was knocking at the door of The Tethered Goat the other day as we sat down to lunch. I offered the Dog of Decei(p)t and Hypocrisy his usual Steppenwolf measure of red wine, but he quietly declined and opted for a Diet Coke.

"That's not even a proper mixer!" complained Dazza. The K Man was lost for printable words.

The Dog mumbled something about "health concerns", also known as being a middle-aged bloke, and pledged to buy his own beverages for the duration.

We've all known the Dog for many years and have grown accustomed to his ways. Indeed, we all have our oddities:

  • The K Man likes French lager;
  • Dazza insists on eating at table;
  • I wear "gay" shirts; and
  • The Dog drives a BMW.

But none of us has ever ordered a soft drink, not even for a girl who specifically asked for one ("Here's a spritzer, love, it even sounds like Sprite."). The next couple of lunchtimes were spent debating whether there were any historical precedents for this behaviour among normal people. We found none.

The closest we came was the case of "Young Young" Magurn, an ex-colleague and epic ale-whalloper, who would switch to Diet Coke and a regime of running around a lot for a fortnight when ever he lost sight of his feet or mistook them for someone else's. Once contact with his loafer tassels was re-established, he would resume his campaign to drain all South Coast breweries by the nearest church festival.

"That wasn't giving up, that was getting in training," I explained to what we thought would be a chastened Dog. "That's what I'm doing," he countered, picking lemon from his teeth. "I need to get into shape for the International Berlin Beer Festival."

It was like that moment in American films when everything you've seen hitherto turns out to have been a pungent red herring, elaborate conspiracy or the dream of a hedgerow mammal. We rushed our apologies - apart from the K Man, who disapproves of festivals that don't involve getting monged in a field in Wiltshire while "some Fenians" try to steal your tent - and considered a new point of philosophy:

What is more manly - the Dog Trend or the Dazza-Boyo Stance? The Dog Trend is:

  1. To drink vats of all sorts of stuff, eat pies, climb onto the roof of your house and hurl night soil at the neighbours' dovecotes.
  2. To cease this activity, substituting soft drinks, omelettes (there is an option without chips, apparently) and a stroll around the garden for a few weeks.
  3. To visit a world shrine of booze, where adepts from all corners of the Earthly disc gather to insist that they don't really want a girlfriend anyway.
  4. To return home with a novelty tankard, the phone number of an ambiguous Belgian and a renewed commitment to The Drink.

The Dazza-Boyo Stance is to drink fairly large amounts of certain stuff, eat things that aren't just brown, and sit on the sofa criticising the telly.

The case for the Dog Trend is that it requires the collective willpower of the Rolling Stones (minus Bill Wyman) to refrain from this life of Neronic excess, only to plunge back in after a fixed period.

The case for the Dazza-Boyo Stance is neo-Yeatsian, in that it involves self-discipline to keep your drinking within the bounds of the just-about unacceptable.

We are genuinely unsure which is the maler, as both approaches have gods on their side:

The Dog Trend reminds me of the Nazarite cult in Judaism, wherein the devout would prepare themselves for pilgrim festivals by not cutting their hair, drinking wine or mucking about with corpses. Rather like promising God that you're not going to be a medical student.

The Dazza-Boyo Stance has elements of Zen, with a hint of Shaolin.

Now the Dog Trend God is the real, Jewish God that everyone recognizes as God. The Dazza-Boyo endorsement may be more obscure, but you get more deities for your sack of butt.

We turned to our independent arbiter, the K Man. He lowered his cigarette, nodded sagely, and pronounced "ye're aw a toosht o' girzies' gairtens". Then he pointed to his empty glass with a bony finger worthy of Knox himself.