Saturday, 16 October 2010

Made In England

I’ve just given away my television, one of the results of trying to cram the contents of a house into an attic room. What was formerly scattered throughout the rooms of a spacious maisonette converted from an art gallery has been drastically scaled down for a room which quadruples up as bedroom, bathroom, living room and dining room. I don’t miss the tellybox though, anything I badly want to watch is merely a few clicks away and it saves having to faff about with an aerial. But why do I find myself repeatedly watching clips of Cher Lloyd, X-Factor’s scrawny emotional darling ghetto girl? She’s so fresh and young and talented and hip, the voice of her generation!

If that’s the voice of a generation I think we’d all be better off communicating by sign language. Another of her talents seems to be bullying. Probably complemented with advanced fag/bus money scheming skills and Top Shop thievery.

I think on this occasion I was right to judge on appearances.

And not only does she have a skeletal appearance, but harbours some skeletons in her closet too. I’m sure X-Factor’s grooming process will sweep all of this under the dangled red carpet.

Another form of social commentary I’ve been tuning into is also quick to turn a blind eye to the darker side of the United Chavdom. In an effort to get to know my new home town, ‘diversecity’ Brighton, I recently checked Julie Burchill’s Made in Brighton out of the local library, recognising the author’s name as the creator of Sugar Rush. I thoroughly enjoyed not one, but two prefaces, only to be let down by the misty-eyed ‘Hope Lies in the Proles’ narrative of the first chapter. Perhaps Julie wouldn’t be so quick to defend chavs if she’d ever been beaten up by one. On other issues, she hits the proverbial on the euphemism (as in I agree with her):

“If this country looked like a person right now, it would probably look a lot like Michael Jackson; a perfectly decent specimen to start with which for some reason convinced itself that it would look a lot better with everything taken off and put back on inside out and upside down.”

“Oh, but I’m a woman trapped in a man’s body!” (on the availability of transsexual operations on the NHS). “So? What about all the white people who feel black, black people who feel white, poor people with rich people’s tastes and short people who are dying to be tall? They’re all welcome to go off and seek to make their dreams a reality, but I don’t see the NHS spending money that could be better spent on hip operations, cancer treatment and simply cleaning up our filthy hospitals. The NHS was never designed to be a sort of state-run Jim’ll Fix It, and I don’t understand why gender must be the one exception.”

The section penned by co-author Daniel Raven on new meedja is hilarious and still relevant, despite being quite dated (2006 – with Daniel having to describe what Wikipedia is).

The next beneficiary of written praise is Jordan, about whom she tries to deny painting as a ‘feminist icon’ while all the time making her sound...well, like a feminist icon. I wonder what me Julie would make of the snarling weak voice of Cheryl Cole’s latest protégé. It seems right up her street.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


I recently relocated to Brighton, my leaving gift from my housemate being a lovingly crafted scrapbook of photos from 8 years in Canterbury, which now lies buried at the bottom of a box as I’m fearful of its inherent power to make me blub like a two year old. But the knowledge of the hard work that went into its creation, and the fact I know it’s there if I need it is comfort enough; I don’t feel the need to display it.

The same cannot be said, however, of the obtrusive ‘Photo Memories’ and ‘Recommended Photos’ on Facebook. ‘Recommended’? As though displayed on the blood-stained menu of some sadistic chef wielding a knife specifically designed to cut into the most fragile pieces of your tender heart! *emo tear*


Good morning! Here’s a picture of your formerly straight ex marrying their lesbian life partner at a lavishly decadent Magic Carpet Ride themed wedding, and isn’t that your mother gnawing a vol-au-vent shaped suspiciously like the toe of a camel in the background? She always did seem to prefer her to you, crying over the break-up for months longer than you did. Or how about that sexy cat girl who got too close to licking your boyfriend’s cream one Halloween. Check her out. Remember the New Year where your fiancée got carried away after one too many champagne cocktails and revealed more (both figuratively and literally) during a raucous game of ‘I Have Never' in ten unforgettable minutes than you elicited in five years of courtship? Blimey, and check out you with that haircut, so 2006, what were you thinking.

The Photo Memories feature has an uncanny knack of highlighting the images you’ve probably spent the most time glaring at in rage or confusion, and then surprise you with a reminder of that night where you and a mate found £20 in the Tesco self checkouts which you promptly embezzled in cheap rosé wine at the same establishment before being tipped off about a VIP underground club night where you knew all the DJs and most of the guests and they played all your requests and you finally pulled that hottie from the tatto parlour and made love to her all night and in the morning saw a double rainbow and a rabbit with poor time-keeping. You will never have that much fun again. Ever.

Thanks for that.

I can only imagine that this seemingly sweetly nostalgic gimmick was tested on people with only pleasant memories. Or goldfish. Or Alzheimers Anonymous. They can be the equivalent of being force-fed your auntie’s holiday pics, but whereas with your auntie you can hide behind the sofa, claim you’ve overdosed on doilies or escape to the kitchen breaking the record for longest time spent making a brew, there’s no handy ‘hide’ function for this latest torturous feature save logging off Facebook. And the curiosity will always get you in the end. Like it did with Alice and that rabbit.

From the late 40s/early 50s, Dad at Butlins with his parents. Some photo memories I can honestly 'like'.