On May 23rd the Sunday Mail devoted its front page to the story of an asylum seeker who had been on the point of death by starvation. He had been rejectd and abandoned by our Welfare State; and ignored by the institutions (professional and voluntary) who had pledged to care for him, and by all the friendly Glasgow fold who knew him, and among whom he had lived for four years. Finally, he had given up, and hanged himself.
Not one of the local dailies had the courage of the Sunday Mail. Not one even mentioned the young Afghani's death.
No story there? No airable issues? No campaign? No blame to assign? Godalmighty.
You might have thought the Daily Record would have supported its sister paper; but on the other hand the Record seems to be such a state that, well, you can't expect anything from it.
It truly is on a kamikaze course. The good old Record used to have a strong following among women and older readers, for, inter alia, the fact that its page 3 was relatively clean. then it gave one of our national sportsmeisters, notorious for his anti-female hysterics, a second features page - at the front of the paper. That lost a lot of the women.Next it brought forward another football mediapundit; and he used his space today to throw some quite toxic abuse at the elderly.
That's bad enough; but when you consider that the Record is currently running a laudable campaign to prevent the ill-treatment of the old in Care Homes, the hypocrisy is unspeakable.
And a nice postscript; the whole of the front page of the Independent (Sat May 29th) is given over to the terrible tale of the Glasgow asylum seeker's dath.
Shame on everybody involved - or not involved.
C G 29 5 04
Wee touch of Weltschmerz the now. All the telly duff or dud understudies or repeats, even the standbys like the News. Why are all male newsreaders so fatuous or feeble? (I except of course the wondrous Alex Thompson.) And the Not-Heather forecaster with the glohtal problem ('the sa-ellite pictures). Even Newsnight: Andrew Neal (aaargh ...) and Ian ('I can write a story in an hour and a half....') Rebus. Aye, we know: 'They found a parking bay, and Grant dropped a couple of coins into the machine, peeling back the ticket and sticking it to the inside of his windscreen.' Forgodssake.
And The News Quiz, which you normally sit down for. The final episode at the Edfest. (See Canteen Chat). We'd Simon Hoggart of South Weeist fame, Fred McAuley (I'll say it once more. Fred McAuley is not funny, two others. It was execrable. Dead Ringers was also up with us last week - but with its usual writers and performers, and its usual brilliance.
In fact it's the only programme worth any attention at the moment (apart from the Archers: any spread bets on when Jennifer finds out, and how and through who? I must, however, confess a shaming partiality to old Brian's caddish charms....)
And talking of small fondnesses: since I have one for Tom Shields, I shall not mention his genito-urinary tract readout (only the title above), for as ipse once dixit, Too much information. And re Tom S, it will be fun to see the turf war that's looming.
Where will T. Shields, Bob Shields, the egregious Jack McLean, the young Herald Turks (Belcher's own style so far subsumed into the formula) all manage to extract enough fuel for their copy? The seams in our sad wee land are surely too shallow and worked-out for all their squat pens to dig.
Yes, Seamus Heaney: the only peson worth going through for - and there was not a ticket to blag anywhere.
Well , onwards and upwards.
Siegfried's coming, tho I dobt he'll provide a nice cheery tonic. And the new Scottish Soap, about which we've been told everything except the most important thing: who's writing it?
Maybe I'll try and get one of those daft and desperate MSPs to start agitating for lobotomy on demand for all.
Right, that's enough of that. I'll go and see Stuart Little 2 again, or read Ron Ferguson or Charlie Allan, or maybe just have a wee lie down and watch my collection of Alex McLeish interviews.........
C. Gatsby - 22nd August, 2002.
Too late to go into detail; but yes, Cheltenham (there Wed and Thu) was colourful.
Purple: punters' faces, livid in the searing wind, rivalled Alistair Down's prose.
Bright yellow, the clabber we had to wade through on our 2-mile? uphill yomp from the Kafka Bus Park to the Courage Enclosure.
Green - the earpieces for Festival Radio (great - presenter Luke Hardy right up there in the James Richardson class.) No Irish green in our bit - they were all in the dear seats? - but the English craic was brilliant.
Maybe 'Next Year in Cheltenham' had been a mantra for so long that the reality had to be a fearful disappointment. The place has been greedily over-extensioned, is simply too vast and unwieldy, and, well, alienating.
The all-pervasive colour was however, a murky grey. Why were there so many bingers? Why did Istabraq run? Who bet on Ilnamar?
Why has BBC Scotland put the only semi-reasonable national discussion forum, Question Time, even further back to after eleven o'clock, and shoved in a series of worn-out clips about old footballers? Why?
And just happened on Offside ...Do we have to be subjected to Tam Cowan's psycho-sexual problems? 'Kissed''to him is 'gave the lips' (cf. gave the heebie jeebies, gave the clap, gave the boke etc)
Dear oh dear oh dear.
C.Gatsby, March, 2002.
There's not much to write about. I am waiting for the big new starglut Gosford thing, and at last the Citizens have something to go and see.
On the telly: another Chewin the Fat series. inevitably its once succulent grease is drying up into stringly gristle: I think I laughed once. What I did laugh at was something I happened on: Terri McIntyre, BBC2 I think, on in a wee post-Paxman pre-porn slot. Very funny.
And, unbelievably, another dose of the ineffable (no, I mean uneffable) Tam Cowan. A serious sufferer from ASN (see below). That just means if he was sherbert he'd sook himself.
Acquired Situational Narcissism - '....a rare, or rather, exclusive type of narcissism that means 'celebrities' lose touch with reality....'
Chloe Gatsby - February, 2002.
Where coming from: read The Hobbit many years ago. Enjoyed. Bilbo - great character - wee fat complacent bourgeois (loved his comfort, second breakfasts, odd relations) hurtled into wondrous adventures. Runes and poems and songs great. Other characters recognisable, lovable.
Tried Lord of the R: gave mandatory 30 pages; no more: Hobbit dough re-formed and rolled filo thin.
OK, saw when bit tired, sated with hype - nine stars u.s.w. But open mind, of course....
(And the seat smelled greasy, as if needed powerful orange peel exfoliation).
Anyways: FX superb. Liked the horses; countryside; galloping. But an awful lot of lah-hah music, blah dialogue. Another Ring plot (see Valkyrie passim)
Perked up when Sean Bean appeared; but he too swiftly sadly enveloped in miasmic gobbleduggery, skulldegook.
I lasted an hour and a quarter.
After decades of lobbying by the Vatican, the Spectator and the E.P.S.A.P.L., the Archers now have a Catholic in their midst: Siobhan Hathaway. But - she's Irish, she's a control freak and she's a slag
Pyrrhic, or what?C Gatsby
Morning Charles. Back from Utter Prapish?
Yesterday. BPJ came day before.
And how are things in the twilit zone?
Oh, as were. Though they're putting out a couple of new light programmes.
Not quite. One's a simply appalling imitation of Have I Got News. No Deayton, alas; nor Merton. In charged by Sports chappie - quite decent sort - just ill advised. Two teams, two captains.
Let me guess. Fred McAulay and ...
Well done, Charles. Not too hard, though, considering the fellow's on all the national progs we dispatch to the Festival and other Three Line Whip affairs. Other captains's from last sub-Nesbitt series.
Ah yes, one of the grisly Neanderthals - both rather amusing.
No. I'm afraid it's the girl. On this she don't have a script, of course, just shrieks 'Shite!' incessantly - and everyone falls down laughing in the aisles.
Sad, sad, sad.
Whole thing is. First episode guests did imitations of each other. Second. marginally better. They'd a local MP on - only sharp one there. On the whole, brain paining tedium.
Ah well, Charles - think of your expenses sheet. First class comes dear up there, no?
Indeed. But - there was worse. They've brought a fat smutty schoolboy over from the wireless. Name of ... what was it? Tam, Tam Cowan. Distrust anyone who calls himself Tam.
Haven't heard of him. Bad is he?
If I tell you he also says shite, non-stop, (or uses one of their colloquial synonyms for it), when he's not leering about his big cock - he's got one prancing about the studio, as his 'mascot' - can you believe?- well, you get the picture.
Not literally, thank the good God. Sick, as well as sad. Anything else?
Chat show - usual six Famous Scottish Faces - another Rab Nesbitt woman chairman. Good actress - but why they want to write their own stuff ...
Come now, Charles. Don't play the faux-naif with me. You know we encourage them - saves cash. Up there they'll watch anything with an accent. The coarser the better, in their dim eyes - and ears.
Never mind, Give them enough rope - same as we did with their poor little Government - and they'll give us peace.
May I say how nice it is to be back among the Cisalpines once more.
So - how's the semtex campaign going? Eddie Mair repatriated yet?C Gatsby
I should have seen this picture ages ago: after all it's been in every cinema in the city for a month (icluding the GFT. What is ging on there, by the way? I used to visit faily regularly but in the past year I've only gone for two Werner Herzog films. The usual offerings have been from the circuits or were very specialised, if you know what I mean.)
I thought Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet was marvellous; and so I was really disapponted by Moulin Rouge. It had colour and panache and gorgeous sets and costumes; but the story was abysmal and the original music truly terrible. Yes I know that the plot was supposed to have been concocted on the hoof by the 'Bohemians,' but the Colourful Mad Absinthe-Drinking Garret Dwellers themselves seem to have been created (?) in three minutes flat so that Luhrmann could spend the next two years on the sets and the clothes. As for the music composed for the film: the hit, I think, was a song with the refrain
"The only thing you'll ever learn is to love, and be loved back in return."
Does not rhyme, does not scan, and I defy all the music was taken from elsewhere, and Luhrmann created such a wonderful package that the end product was a marvellous film.
Back to MR. Nicole Kidman should have taken lessons from Jim Broadbent in how to handle a badly written ham part. She's nice and tall, though. (Another by the way: why don't directors let their myopic stars take out their contact lenses when they're being filmed? They are professionals: surely they can kid on they can see? It's painful to watch poor Nicole and Michelle Pfeiffer and Vanessa Redgrave, and others I can't remember offhand, when their beautiful bloodshot eyes come into romantic close-up.)
And Ewan McGregor: I can watch him in anything . The Parkinson show last night was a bit difficult. Our Ewan was definitely uneasy next to the touchy-feely Kidman; and I understand why he took off to the wilds after Moulin Rouge. It must have bee such a relief to wrestle with real anacondas, and machete off curling vines and tendrils that wanted to strangle him - no discomfort there. He clearly can handle a proper jungle, whereas last night you felt like shouting, 'Heh, you! lea' the boy alane!'
All became clear the night I heard Craig Brown say, 'We're au fait with the sitaution.' You could hear the sighs throughout the land. 'Heh! Hear that? Au fait. Guy's a wee mad genius.'
He's not, of course. But Scotsmen, inarticulate, tongue-tied, dominie-ridden, are so mesmerised and terrified by small tubby men with a way with words and a Scots accent (cf. Tam Cowan - of whom more later) that they let them have whatever they want.
And I'm not just slagging the poor sad eejits in the Tartan Army. The SFA, the media: everybody's responsible for Brown having kept the job he's so duff at: football management. Using the best players in their best positions, honing set pieces and so on - picture Scotland team practices and all you think of is Brown ogling Colin Hendry as he lumbers up and down flexing his pecs.
Women know Brown couldnae run a menage - in the sense they use it doon the Waldorf. In the other sense, well, only some ju-ju there too can account for his much vaunted conquests. I cannot think of any other reason.
You think this is garbage? Watch the telly this Saturday, and whatever else happens, you'll see Brown, masterfully juggling his prepositions and subjunctives and compound clauses, in complete and perfect control.
The wee shaman