Editor-At-Large: Frankie Boyle is not daring, he's just dull


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The Independent Online

Do disabled people want or need Frankie Boyle to make jokes on their behalf? On Twitter, the comedian commented "Nobody thinks it's a good thing to laugh at the disabled. But it is a genuine problem that we're not allowed to laugh with the disabled." That might well be true, and Frankie Boyle has more than 900,000 followers – indicating that a large number of people are interested in what he has to say, no matter how offensive his views might be to some.

Frankie says his comments are "celebratory, non-discriminatory, pretty funny". Remember Ricky Gervais and the furore over "mong" – he later apologised, saying he didn't want to cause offence and had been misunderstood.

When comedians dare to joke about disability, are we too sensitive? Humour is subjective, but I doubt that the majority of us would find Frankie's comments as funny as he claims. All the same, he's right: why should it be OK for only disabled people to crack jokes about their situation? In my book, Frankie's biggest crime is that he isn't funny, and neither was Ricky G. Boyle's joke about Rebecca Adlington's nose was like a lot of jokes about my teeth, or me and blow jobs – completely feeble, scoring one of out 10 for originality. Likewise this Frankie Boyle Twitter offering: "wow, Austrian Paralympians seem a lot more able-bodied than most regular Scottish people". I can hear the hooter going- sorry Frankie, that's a clunker, by any standards.

We live in a free society, so once you start muffling things that make you feel uncomfortable, where do you stop? Twitter and the internet mean we are blighted with over-communication. The notion of self-censorship is risible. Everyone believes they're a critic with something important to say – spouting drivel and re-tweeting twaddle 24/7. You just have to ignore the tidal wave of dross, to retain your sanity, but it's the timing of Mr Boyle's comments about the Paralympics that I find suspect. He's just started a long tour that has received some lukewarm reviews. Dates stretch into December, and there are few sell-outs – but you might not be able to get a ticket for tonight's show in Cardiff or Tuesday's in Derby. I loathe good taste: it's always seemed like something the middle class dreamt up to keep the lower orders in their place – but Frankie fails the litmus test of laughter, not offensiveness. Disabled people need brilliant humorists to force comfy mainstream people to confront some difficult issues. Sadly, Mr Boyle is an intellectual pigmy not worthy of his subject material.

Kate's jolly

OK for some: only 18 months after their honeymoon in the Seychelles, William and Kate are flying off on an 11-day tour of beautiful tropical islands in the South Pacific, on behalf of the Queen. They start in Singapore, travel to Malaysia and Borneo and will be "roughing it" in the Solomon Islands. Luckily Kate will have a hairdresser on call, a private jet for part of the trip, more than 30 carefully chosen outfits for all occasions and plenty of tiaras and glittering jewellery to dazzle the natives.

Prince Harry messed about in Jamaica on another of these Jubilee jaunts earlier in the year – obscene, when you consider that troubled island desperately needs tourists and real investment, not a silly toff hanging out with beach babes.

Jamaica's triumph in the Olympics will do more than Harry's oafishness would ever achieve. This tour is meant to encourage tourists to visit this far-flung part of our empire, but as a PR stunt for the monarchy, it sucks.

Roll on autumn

As I tossed the empty bottle of factor 30 sunscreen in the bin and jammed my dirty washing into the suitcase, a text from Yorkshire told me that it was 3C in Upper Nidderdale, the coldest August night since records began – as well as the wettest summer for 100 years. My courgettes are flourishing and my roses mouldy. I never thought I'd write these words, but after holiday temperatures in the upper 30s, I'm actually looking forward to a cool breeze. I've basked in so much sun on holiday in Italy, I'm in danger of resembling an old leather handbag, which isn't an attractive look in anyone over 40. I've drunk so much water to fend off death by dehydration I'm sick of the taste of it. I've stuck to a healthy hot weather diet of salad, fresh fruit, and grilled fish. I can't wait for porridge, a big Sunday roast and a hot water bottle, frost in the morning, damsons and blackberries. Bring on autumn, I'm ready for it.

We need heroes

The honours system is past its sell-by date, according to an influential committee of MPs who think the Prime Minister should have no say in who gets a gong. At the moment, a quota system operates ensuring up to four civil servants receive honours for every single sportsperson. The Public Administration Select Committee has just published a report complaining that far too many rewards are handed to pop stars, actors, celebrities, politicians and civil servants and too few to ordinary people who contribute to the community. I could not agree more: our success in the Olympics and the Paralympics gives the Government a chance to draw a line under the mistakes of the past and implement a new system. Knighthoods and titles that are reminiscent of our former Empire must be scrapped without delay. The people worth honouring in the UK are those who inspire others and set an example, not wealthy businessmen, party donors and civil servants with fat pensions. If Cameron wants to show he recognises excellence and listens to the mood of the country, he will take a deep breath, award no more of these anteduluvian titles and implement an entirely new, honour – the People's Hero.

Petty in pink

When Lego launched a cutesy version of its Duplo building system for little girls, the Spark group of feminists in the US was outraged, claiming it was sexist. It got 50,000 people to sign a petition against the range, which comes in a pink container and contains a little stove with pots and pans, as well as a beauty salon. The Pink Brick Box was also criticised by Pink Stinks in the UK, which said it promotes stereotypes. The basic kit costs around £13, and has been a huge hit: little girls can decorate a house with flowers, customise a pony and put together a kennel and a grooming kit for a puppy. Sales have boomed, and Lego reported a 35 per cent increase in profits and a 24 per cent increase in sales for the first six months of 2012. The Danish company will be employing another 1,000 people to meet demand, a 10 per cent increase in its workforce. As a child, I loved Lego. When my parents gave me a doll, I ripped the arms off. My next toy was Lego followed by Meccano. I spent hours building complicated bridges and houses and ended up studying architecture. The important thing with construction toys is that they teach kids to put things together by themselves. I can't get worked up about pink Lego.