Monday, June 20, 2011

Wars of the Diadochoi

The death of one-man mob Brian Haw leaves a bloke-shaped gap at his unilateral peace camp opposite Parliament. All sorts of unsavoury types, ranging from Brian's supporters to HM Government, are eager to fill it.

That is why we in the Cymru Rouge, who enjoyed his protest on a variety of levels, are launching the Brian Haw Succession Prize to ensure that his absence is well-spent.

We will accept submissions to take Brian's place from all-comers - rather like the empty plinth on Trafalgar Square, but with even more of a transgressive thrill for Britain's progressives.

Four nominations have arrived already and passed the selection criteria. They are:

1. Dr Mabuse. This wild-eyed, cadaverous German thinker looks the part and is down on Capitalism and democracy. He proposes to replace Brian's graphic banners with something altogether more Expressionist - black-on-white posters screaming "SCHIKSAL!" and "ANGST!", all underlit in flaring phosphorous.

Counting against him is his un-Havian silence, and being a doctor means he may get irritated with Brian's supporters asking him about homeopathy and Big Pharma all the time.

We imagine him gesticulating in an angular fashion atop a period Packard, as Independent readers make sympathetic noises about Dresden.

2. Nataliya Vitrenko. Little-known outside her native Ukraine and generally ignored within it, Ms Vitrenko makes up in volume, stridency and spray-can anti-Americanism what she lacks in presence.

She speaks vulnerable English, which will endear her to people who share their lives with cats, and has a catholic selection of banners that combine swastikas with the Stars and Stripes in the approved student manner.

She does have a hill to climb, though. A five-foot scold like the mop-faced women who sell you dried fish in Soviet underpasses, Nataliya cannot match Brian's praying-mantis prowl. Nor does she favour hats - an unusual omission, given the knitted berets sported by her onion-breathed matronly supporters.

On the plus side she likes Lyndon LaRouche, a grim American conspiracy freakshow who fancies HM The Queen as head of an international cocaine cartel. This turbo lunacy would let Vitrenko outflank the 9/11 nutters on Parliament Square who pretend to Brian's pitch.

3. The BBC Question Time audience. We give you 50-odd people - the racial, social and age spectrum of modern Britain in all its lurid diversity - and they think exactly alike.

It's a literally left-field candidacy, granted. Their collective coziness contrasts with Brian's stark vigil, and it's only too easy to imagine squabbles over the crèche rota and gluten issues.

Their sickly pall of patchouli and antihistamine spray could never match Brian's manly musk, and barely would their reedy, am-dram voices buzz above the backbench belches.

But, for all that, these were his people, bound together by the same thought that they had once had. Perhaps a little corner of Whitehall should always be a "Not In Our Name" installation.

4. Jesus Christ. Brian Haw was a religious man. He trained as a carpenter. He spoke out against violence and the powerful of the land. Few disciples joined him on his lonely journey, and most of his followers misunderstood his message.

With the Archbishop of Canterbury not even trying anymore, and Westminster Abbey a short donkey ride away, Our Lord and Saviour's time has come. Again.

He may want to keep quiet about being Jewish, though.

All other nominations sceptically received.

A oes heddwch?

Huw Samphan, Brawd Rhif Un
Brian Haw Succession Prize
Cymru Rouge

Sunday, June 12, 2011

damnatio ad bestias

The BBC's looking for new programme ideas again. They've yet to accept any of my previous offerings, so I've modelled this bid on something they already like and given it a modish political angle.

Along the lines of BBC3's worthy "Snog, Marry, Avoid", I'd like to propose "Shelter, Shag, Shunt".

Exclusively nubile asylum seekers are assessed by a panel of sandpapery newspaper columnists, loathesome hipsters and Radio 4 official comedians to decide whether to:

  • house them for free in the attic of the North London mews you share with your dreary Quaker-lite family;

  • employ them as, er, nannies;

  • or/and denounce them to Immigration.

nominations for panelists below, please.

If the Beeb's not interested I may try Sky, or the Home Office.