Random Drivel from your Average Tosser

...with your host, Binty McShae - whether you like it or not!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Televisual Tossery

So what happened to the good old days of the BBC? Auntie Beeb, giving us slice by slice of glorious British life through those twin delights of Comedy and Drama... astounding us with documentaries explaining just how bizarre and un-British the rest of the world was... and, of course, informing us of how wonderful our country was and what rotten Johnny Foreigner was up to through its unrivalled news service. An era when programming started at 8.37am sharp and ended at bedtime, 6.02pm, with a pride-inducing blast of 'God Save The Queen' (followed by a rousing chorus of 'Knees Up Mother Brown' on every third Sunday). An innocent age when the licence fee cost thruppence and ha'penny and the Radio Times came with a digestive biscuit each week as a free gift... *Sigh*, the good old days...!

Of course that was all back in the days of my childhood when we only had BBCs 1 and 2 and their ruffian of a neighbour, ITV. Nowadays there is Satellite, Cable... you name it. And even those Neanderthal-minded technophobes who can still only receive terrestrial channels have had their quota upped with the emergence of Channels 4 and 5. All of which has sadly led to a demise in programming, leading us to be force-fed such travesties as Pop Idol and Big Brother whilst inanities like "Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps" are laughingly bestowed the rank of 'Comedy'. Even the Grand Old Soap Operas, once the bastion of British Televisual Entertainment, have had the credibility of their storylines stretched far too far by an insistence that they air 27 times a week.

Surely things can get no worse? Surely there is no more room for utter shite on television? I mean, surely the only way broadcasting could stoop any lower would be to show, oh... I don't know... a marathon masturbation session, for example - literally, a load of wank.

Oh no they wouldn't...!?

Oh yes they fucking would!

Channel 4 - the land that good taste ran like buggery from...

Cheers m'dears!

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Remembering the Race Riots

Today is Racial Harmony day in Singapore. This was established to commemorate the first day of an intense period of racial rioting, 42 years ago, and aims to foster inter-racial links to ensure that violence of that nature does not flare up again.

Some background - After the British pulled out of Singapore its Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, believed the island state would be unable to stand alone with its limited resources and sought to be integrated into its neighbouring country, Malaya. The Malays were concerned, as the large Chinese population in Singapore meant that the ethnic demographics of Malaya would be significantly altered. However, various political reasons persuaded the government in Kuala Lumpar that it was safer to absorb Singapore than allow it to controlled by any rival state.

The inclusion of Singapore in 1963 added the "SI" to Malaya to give us the current name, Malaysia, and PM Lee essentially found his role diminished to that of a regional governor. Unfortunately Lee's dreams of a harmonious union never really worked and tensions between the Chinese (a majority in Singapore but a minority now in Malaysia) and the Malays eventually erupted into rioting a year later.

The following is an extract from an article published yesterday and written by Charles Tan, a Singaporean who lived through the rioting (I am unsure of the original source as I have received this fourth hand through e-mail). The title of the piece is A Race To Survive:-

...I nearly became an innocent casualty in an infamous and shameful chapter of Singapore's history — the Prophet Muhammad Birthday riots, which broke out with clashes between a Malay procession and Chinese spectators and passers-by near Geylang Serai.
Returning home from work that evening on July 21, 1964, I had to cross Geylang Road from the car park where I had alighted from the bus. As I crossed, I noticed a group of youths overturning cars, dousing them with kerosene and setting them alight. There were groups of Chinese and Malays fighting with parangs [a type of Malayan machete] and choppers. Debris was strewn around and I saw mutilated bodies lying on the road.
I was frightened and the more scared I became, the more difficult I found it was to try to run across the road to look for refuge in someone's house. I could see flashes of parangs coming towards me. My heart beat furiously. As I got to the other side, a group of parang-wielding youths began to chase me, shouting: "Orang cina, orang cina" (Malay for Chinese person). My survival instincts took over. I ran more than fifty yards in less than 10 seconds flat, and charged into a house along Lorong 3 hoping for refuge.
Perhaps fearing reprisals from the house's occupants, the attackers retreated. But far from being sympathetic to my plight, the occupants were furious at me for bringing the "rioting" to their doorstep. As soon as my attackers were gone from sight, I was cursed and chased away.
As historical sources would have it, four people were killed that first day of rioting and 178 injured. For the next 11 days, a curfew was imposed and Geylang, which had a heavy concentration of Malay inhabitants, was where it was most strictly enforced. Geylang Road was covered with Black Marias (police vans) and there were road-blocks at regular intervals, manned by Gurkhas — those fearsome Nepalese mercenaries — armed with sub-machine guns and knives. It is no exaggeration to compare Geylang Road to a scene straight out of Black Hawk Down — burning cars, charred bodies and heavily-armed soldiers patrolling the street strewn with concertina wires.
When the curfew was finally lifted on Aug 2 and I returned to work, 23 people had lost their lives, 450 had been hurt, and 2,500 arrested. Afterwards, "goodwill committees" of community leaders were set up to help restore harmony between the Malays and the Chinese, by addressing their concerns. Dare I say that we have since learned from the destructive nature of racial disharmony, and that Singaporeans today can say we are among the world's most tolerant and harmonious people?

A year later Singapore was 'kicked out' of Malaysia - more trouble than it was worth, it seems...

Tan's article is an interesting insight for me, as someone who barely knew that a place called Singapore even existed a few years back - and as someone who sometimes struggles to differentiate between lighter skinned Malays and darker skinned Chinese anyway! But I am perturbed slightly by the final statement - Dare you say it, indeed, Mr Tan?

Has any culture truly learned from destructive racial disharmony? I was working in Bradford a few years back during the riots - thankfully I was not living there so I only saw the 'before' and 'after'. Over the last 12 months we have also had racial rioting in France and Australia. And as anyone who trawls the blog-universe will know there is a lot of racial bigotry out there.

Singapore tries to avoid this by having rigid policies in place to enforce racial harmony, including setting quotas in government housing blocks to ensure that no one area becomes solidly Chinese, Malay or Indian. Yet is this not the wrong way to approach the situation? Rather than enforcing a physical closeness should we not be trying to break down the barriers that exist on a more intellectual, emotional and spiritual level?

Charles Tan, you are correct that people live in some kind of harmony in Singapore - but attitudes have still not completely changed. There are some companies who advertise vacancies as "must be fluent in Mandarin" when there is no real need, knowing this will result in a Chinese employee. And it is not just the older generation that harbours grudges, as evidenced by the youths that were recently taken to court for their racist blogging. Inter-racial relationships are also still heavily frowned upon, even to the extent that walking down the street with someone of the opposite sex who is not of your ethnic background - be they partner, friend or simply work colleague - can elicit glares.

Remember July 21st in Singapore. Remember all the racial violence that happens the world over. But never make the mistake of thinking that the attitudes that caused the violence have been consigned to history's dustbin - that would be a fatal error.

Cheers m'dears!

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Irony, Schmirony!

Sitting in the boozer and a female friend (let's call her Flo, just for the hell of it) ambles in, plonks herself down on the stool next to me and then sighs loudly... I know I'm just asking for it, but...

"What's up, hen?"

Now, I'm not going to give you the full drawn out ramblings of what, indeed, was up - I like most of the people who read this blog too much to inflict that - so here is the edit...

"I met the love of my life. Turns out he's married. It's just like in that Alanis song, innit? Y'know, 'Ironic'"

Okay... red rag to a bull time. Ironic? Is it fuck! That's life, for fuck's sake! Of course I don't put it quite like that... instead I try to find out more about the situation, maybe to put Flo at ease. And the first thing I ask is "What is this wife like, exactly?"

"Oh, y'know... typical tall, slim beautiful blonde."

Now, I'm not a cruel man but I feel obliged to point out that this 'love of her life' being already married to a virtual supermodel, whilst obviously upsetting, hardly counts as 'ironic'. If this wife had been roughly 5'6", a little more curvacious, with short dark hair and a slighly wonky nose... now that might have been bordering on ironic purely by virtue of the wife then being a clone of Flo herself.

This observation doesn't go down incredibly well, so when Flo tells me the story of how 'dream-hubby' and his wife met at some event in Monte Carlo I opt for another approach...

Let's imagine for a second, going back say 4 years... a friend invites Flo to a dinner party where everyone will be in couples, but knowing Flo to be single she invites another gentleman to act as her blind date. This is a good friend, who manages to choose the perfect match for Flo, but unfortunately Flo (in the midst of her depression about being single) decides to drop out at the last minute. In desperation her friend, the host, calls up another girl to take her place... another girl with looks and interests very similar to Flo. The two strangers hit it off straight away and are married within a couple of years. Then, further down the line, Flo meets the 'love of her life'... who just happens to be the man she stood up four years ago and who has, in the meantime, married her doppelganger....

Now THAT's fucking ironic!

Flo chewed on this for a while before turning to me, her eyes curiously blazing.

"Do me a favour, Binty. Never take a job in Counselling."

Cheers m'dears!

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Well, I never...!

Football. Funny old fuckin' game, ain't it? There was me at the begining of the tournament saying "it's going to be a toss up between Argentina, Brazil and Germany for the title". And with the frankly uninspiring performances by Brazil early on I became convinced that the quarter-final between Argentina and Germany was the real final. After all, they were the two teams who had been strong and played consistently well - whichever one got managed to beat the other would surely sweep aside the remaining also-rans.

Couldn't have got that more wrong, could I? It just goes to show that on the world football stage there is only one safe bet - and that's England going out in the quarter or semi-finals on penalties.

...an extra bet on them clinging onto a draw whilst reduced to 10 men after a petulant player was sent off and you're laughing...

Cheers m'dears!


Monday, July 03, 2006

A Little Light Relief (and other not-so-tall tales)...

In Jamaica the argument over distribution of condoms in male prisons (fought between the pro-"protecting against STDs" group and the anti-"encouraging sexual activity" lobby) has finally been settled with the Government opting to allow inmates to kill each other off slowly and painfully by spreading AIDS. A poor-taste humourist might make a crack about lethal injection, but not I...

In India, however, they may want to consider banning lightbulbs rather than condoms as one inmate recently had to have one removed from his arse. Intact. Claiming to not know how it got up there (what the fuck?!) Fateh Mohammad had gone to the prison hospital with a pain in his lower abdomen. Upon its discovery (see x-ray, above) a delicate operation ensued to remove it without breaking the glass... perhaps unsurprisingly Mohammads doctor states that he has never encountered anything like this before...

In other news I am astounded to learn that research has unearthed the cause of Japans falling birth rate. Quite simply, people are not having sex. Yep, that'd do it. Various reasons are to blame (you know, the usual shit like long work hours), although maybe people are just finding each others footwear a turn-off... this is the country from which those evil flip-flops developed, after all. I have always said, right from my very first post, that those things should be destroyed - and now evidence is on my side that even if they don't play a part in Japans demographics they still fuck up your ankles (and your career).

...and I'm not even going to start about the Estonians. Bunch of fucking weirdos!

Cheers m'dears!

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Western superiority complex - the absolute Pitts.

Some Jordanian con-man hit the news yesterday for trying to claim cash that wasn't his in the UAE... not that newsworthy until you discover that he had created fake ID using a random picture of a man he downloaded from the 'net. The man in question was Brad Pitt.

Okay, only mildly amusing. What prompted me to write about it, however, was the reaction of the 'trying-to-be-hip-and-trendy-by-making-sarcastic-comments' reporter on some random US entertainment channel... after stating that the Jordanian claimed he did not realise whose face he had downloaded as he didn't know who Brad Pitt was the journo' sneered "which is perfectly understandable - if you come from a planet not called Earth!"

Fuck off you patronising insular cunt! Culture comes in more forms than just 'Western' and, contrary to popular belief, no-one is known the world over. Not Cruise, not Beckham, not even Bush - and, even despite having a baby in Africa, not Pitt. Get your head out of your arse and realise that it's a big fucking world with a lot going on in it and not every cunt is glued to the TV watching your godawful TV programmes for tidbits and gossip about what brand of toothpaste each celebrity uses.

And before anyone asks why I was watching it - I was only channel-hopping!

Cheers m'dears!

Update - I just visited said channels website and read the phrase "apparently, Us Weekly has yet to hit the Middle East". Oh. Aha. Ha. Ha. Funny cunts, aren't you?

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