Western legislators have such double standards today, it somehow makes them twice as funny. We have austerity that doesn’t apply to Whiteminster, Tory leadership candidates for the Labour Party, Republican Democrats, populist Republicans….and an electorate that knows nothing about baking addicted to the TV show Great British Bake-Off. Our political systems manage to be both cause and effect at the same time: this makes them tragi-comic.
Fresh from awarding themselves a better pay deal and improved (unfunded) pension emoluments, British MPs are now to look into ‘whether senior managers in business are overpaid”. You might call that “set a thief to establish that his best mates are also thieves”, but in real life it doesn’t work: there are minor considerations like threats not to donate to the Conservative Party….or, if things get really sticky, offers to donate even more.
Still, it’s good to see that the thing most required of an MP these days – a neck of sturdy, guilt-reflecting brass – is still intacta among most of the Westmonsters. Go back through history, and you’ll find many examples of similar hypocrisy: but rather than reduce the amount of it, 24/7 news and online reporting has quite obviously allowed it to explode.
I don’t remember, for example – after Rome had put down one of many attempted invasions from the Western empire’s frontiers – any Senators calling for an inquiry into whether the Hun had been especially beastly, and were thus worthy of censure. One of Rome’s many hobbies having been to line the roads with crucified escapee slaves, such moralising would have been (as my Dad used to say) “a bit of a nerve”.
But ethical niceties haven’t been of concern to our Parliament for many decades now. They happily fiddle their expenses while voting to cut welfare for the disabled, or tell WASPIs not to be greedy and accept the need for realism on pensions, while chucking money at an equally depraved banking system.
I can’t read the news from across the Pond about the US Presidential election now without laughing out loud. I don’t think that means I am heartless – just unable to take the process seriously any more. We are no better by the way, but the Americans do it with just that extra pinch of mind-boggling belief.
Examine where we are for just a minute. On one side is “the favourite”, a woman whose character is now firmly established as easily capable of making Rosa Klebb look like a bit of a softie. She represents “liberal” thought in the US (allegedly) but is bankrolled by every unpleasant banking firm on Wall Street, and has amassed a fortune from a highly dubious foundation set up by and for her husband, a former President whose hobby is heavy petting through the medium of cigars.
The other candidate is – believe it or not – the Bad Guy. He has the facial mannerisms of Benito Mussolini (and some policy ideas to match) a bimbo wife half his age, a business empire allegedly built on sand-dunes, but nevertheless so much money he doesn’t need donations. Above all, he sports a toupee-transplant thing so lavish, he can iron his own hair – or use it to tickle his back – depending on the wind direction.
It is the ultimate anti-tribute to the banal shade of greyness running through the GOP’s DNA that – despite being ignored by much of the US media set, sabotaged by the Republican Elders of Mammon, and condemned by almost the entire Party – he is now their candidate for the Presidency. This is one of his two saving graces. The other is that he quite rightly wants pc drivel reined in, and Christmas called Christmas again. In every other area of policy, the bloke is a total nutbag.
You may not find this funny, but I do. In summary, it’s a woman most of the population doesn’t like versus a man none of the Party bigwigs like. Her tack is to say she isn’t as mad as him, and his tack is to claim he isn’t as crooked as her.
If you’re not laughing by now, try this for size: she is not a well person. I mean, she needs so many pills to keep her upright, a pantechnicon full of them follows her around – along with a retinue of physicians and emergency paramedics. She is also a lush. I say this with the conviction of one no longer generally well-connected any more, but still well in enough with East Coast Democrats to know that Rosa finds the pavements unaccountably rising towards her each and every day. As she has demonstrated on every inappropriate occasion: it’s one thing to attend a Ground Zero memorial, but falling to Ground Zero yourself represents either the dedication of a patriot, or the wobbly pins of a drunk.
So then, it’s Rosa Klebbton, the twofaced, hardfaced and frequently shitfaced bankers’ moll versus Donito Trumpolini, the aerodynamically toupéed ginger nut cookie who wants to do an FDR on the US infrastructure by building a nonstop wall from San Diego to Florida using the Canadian route.
Seriously? No, not at all. That’s why I laugh about it.
Most older music fans would see American Pie as Don McLean’s signature album. (I don’t, but that’s not important right now).
“As American as apple pie” is, however, a phrase that evokes all kinds of images of the US from roughly 1935 to 1960. There is no British album called, for example, Fish n Chips – or even Pork Pie. Instead, we have a television competitive ‘lifestyle’ format called Great British Bake-Off. It is, of course, yet another cookery programme.
The series is a big hit in the UK. I finally realised this when – in my nearest Lidl the other day – I heard an English voice say to hubby, “That’ll go well tonight – we can eat it on us knees while watchin’ BakeOff”. In her hand was a frozen pizza.
I once toyed with the idea of a regular Slogpost feature called Any old Irony. Too many set-piece columns can be constricting, but you can probably see where I’m going. No nation anywhere else on the planet does unconscious irony like the Brits.
Long ago – before God was uninvented and feminists took over the rôle – there was a subject in British girls’ schools called Domestic Science. I would reintroduce the study of it immediately, and make it compulsory for both genders…pausing only to rename it ‘Cooking’. Five years ago I floated this idea to Oliver Letwin (ah, the sound of famous names dropping with a crash onto the floor) as a means of cutting the food bill of the bottom 25% in Britain. For the truth is that convenience shit is expensive, but simple fresh ingredients for those who can cook are still relatively cheap.
Mr Letwin was interested in the idea, and tabled it as a potential Cabinet topic for discussion. It never made it. Jamie Oliver came up against the same all-talk-no-action bollocks with David Cameldung when it came to school meals. Educating our children about good from bad in food is a politically neutral great idea: it would cut the NHS bill over time, and (even better) represent a severe poke in the eye for Harriet Harman. But it’s an example of good governance, and thus stands not the ghost of a chance.
Instead, we have GBBO – a programme about baking excellence for people who can’t cook, and never bake. In and of itself, the format is yet one more process-driven formulaic output of an ‘outside the box’ brainstorming think tank, the output from which was never in danger of escaping from the tank. It’s the culinary equivalent of Britain’s Got Talent. But mainly, it’s dire.
It is, if you like, a sort of dirony. Ba-boom.