Umuricun Psycho

There is now a flood of books entering the world’s shops and markets, books about graphene and football and Nelson Mandela and  Nigella Lawson and One Direction and North Korea and Alice Cooper and the Great War…one day the ISBN numbering system will run out of space to accommodate this avalanche of literature. But, until then, we can relax in the knowledge that ISBN 0140246525 is uniquely allocated to Making Priscilla, the slim volume by Al Clark about his adventures in the movie industry in the early 1990s, as he set about making a new film – indeed, a completely new type of film – called ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’.

Packed with bizarre characters, quirky situations and some brilliant turns of phrase (I really think this should be a set book for GCSE English), the book includes a description of director Stephan Elliott;

“…on his hands and knees the following morning on the Croisette begging the forgiveness of both director and wife.  This cartoon humiliation behind him, he meets me for dinner with an executive from Fox, to whom he proposes the idea of adapting Bret Easton Ellis’s graphically grisly novel American Psycho as a musical.”

When I first read this passage I howled with laughter, since it seemed utterly daft and unconvincing. I mean, what a ridiculous idea! But now we find that the Almeida Theatre in London is getting rave reviews for ‘American Psycho – The Musical’, produced by Rupert Goold and starring Matt Smith. This is the tale of a Wall Street whiz-kid who really, really makes a killing.

Three years ago I enjoyed studying Marketing as part of my OU Business Diploma; now I carefully scan adverts for their cultural messages. Tonight I saw a couple of distinct bits of marketing: one, using the universal retro-slogan which has taken over the UK, said “Keep Calm and Drink Coffee”, which is really an impossible task. The other showed a sportsman crossing the finishing line at a race; the poster was advertising Niquitin, and the defiant slogan proclaimed “If you can quit smoking you can do anything” which sounded more upbeat than any other abstinence campaign.


Leahy preaching…

Sir Terry Leahy (a good reason to decline a knighthood, if ever one was needed) has popped up in Ye Telegraffe again saying that the private sector approach is the only way to solve Britain’s economic woes. Maybe, but…
I understand that commercial enterprises exist to generate income for their shareholders by making the highest level of profit; this is done by using cheap labour and poor quality raw materials, leading to finished goods which need frequent upgrading or replacement.
We could always use this approach for the armed forces, but then you would end up with front-line squaddies having boots that don’t fit and guns that don’t fire. Or you could end up with nuclear subs that start falling to bits ‘cos of unexpected corrosion.
But old Tel is a Sir, so he’s probably right and I’m probably wrong; we’ll see in a few years…
And four days ago:
Several of today’s papers carried the story about Justin Byrne, the newly-appointed coach of an under-tens football team in Buckinghamshire, who sent an e-mail to parents informing them that he was “only interested in winning” and that “everything they (the kids) are likely to do in life will be competitive so my view is to get them used to it.”
I can understand his views, but perhaps they would be more appropriate to an under-21s team rather than primary-school kids.
And if he had gone to the NEC bike show he could have picked up The Telegraph with a free scrummy bar of Galaxy and a DVD profile of Mike Hailwood – surely one of the most competitive of men – who during the 1973 South African Grand Prix abandoned the race in order to rescue rival driver Clay Regazzoni from a burning car following a crash.
Winning is nice; but it isn’t everything….

Dizzy Blond

Well, I’ve just polished off half a bottle of cheap Sangiovese (disappointing, to be honest) so I’m in the mood to have a rant. And my target is that fluffy metropolitan demon, Boris Johnson….
Boris (‘dizzy blond’) Johnson created predictable outrage with his recent speech about the genetic background to financial inequality, enterprise and intelligence. It was The Guardian, though, which highlighted the redeeming note of humanity with which he concluded his talk:

“I hope there is no return to the spirit of loadsamoney heartlessness – figuratively riffling banknotes under the noses of the homeless – and I hope that this time the Gordon Gekkos of London are conspicuous” … “for what they give and do for the rest of the population, many of whom have experienced real falls in their incomes over the last five years.”

I’m not an expert on this, but I recall that in the seventies there were many small and medium-sized factories around the UK producing widgets and stuff. A manufacturing facility tends to require people of varying degrees of intelligence, from sweeper-uppers to research chemists; and it may also provide an environment in which people are encouraged to acquire more skills and experience, allowing them to migrate upwards throughout the firm.
Perhaps if the UK had not so cheerfully abandoned its industrial sector we would not have many of the problems now facing the economy. I’m sure there are lots of experienced managers and consultants out there who can offer evidence to support or demolish my suggestions…”
Of course, this point has been made countless times in the past and with more force and elegance than I could ever muster; but I think it’s still true, and maybe our cousins in Germany have maintained a level of respect for manufacturing and craft skills that we should think about copying.

Journal Entry, 25 July 2019:
This is ridiculous. Boris Johnson is now the UK Prime Minister.
The world has gone mad.
And all because he promised us – on the side of a Big Red Bus – that we could gain 350 million pounds a week for the NHS simply by leaving the European Union.

Journal Entry, 02 May 2020:
Zamoyski’s 2004 book about Napoleon opens with the birth of the Emperor’s son in March 1811. The entire French nation was swept up in wild celebration when it became apparent that the new arrival was a boy.

It is a pity that the UK public were not so effusive in the welcome afforded to Boris Johnson’s sixth (?) child, a baby boy who arrived on 29 April. Instead of rejoicing at the wonderful news, people seemed more concerned with their own petty, selfish concerns.
For example, a number of commentators pointed out that Boris and Carrie weren’t actually married, but were living in sin. This sort of thing might be okay for some morally deficient kids from council estates; but the Conservative party should expect more dignified conduct from its own Prime Minister.

In 2019, when Boris was running for the post of party leader, police were called to Carrie’s flat by an anxious neighbour, concerned about the yelling and crashing noises late at night. Fortunately the happy couple were soon able to leave their cramped inner-city apartment and set up a love-nest in the flat over 10 Downing Street.
Boris is a keen adherent of the Uncertainty Principle; nobody knows exactly how many offspring he has sired, and nobody seems to care. This is somebody who amused himself as an undergraduate by trashing restaurants with fellow members of the Bullingdon Club, and who has been dismissed (not once, but twice) from his job for misconduct.

Perhaps we can make amends to Boris by offering to build a huge marble bridge between Stranraer and Larne, which would be decorated with glorious baroque statues of Boris and his wives and his children. It should be an easy enough task – after all, he successfully managed the construction of the legendary Garden Bridge across the Thames, at a cost of just 37 million pounds. (Oh, sorry: the bridge was never actually built, it was just the planning report that cost £37m)

Anyway, the petty, selfish concerns of the British people: the Covid-19 pandemic, which has so far claimed over 27,000 lives in the UK (many of the victims were NHS staff) and is likely to bring about social upheaval – transport and leisure facilities will be required to operate on less than half their capacity when the lockdown is eventually lifted. Airlines are expecting to lose thousands of workers; farmers are being forced to discard vast quantities of unsold milk, breweries are pouring beer away, and schoolchildren have missed out on weeks of crucial exam preparation.