Wednesday 27 October 2010
Julie Burchill: Poor Lauren Booth – she would do anything to get in with the tough kids
Last year I took the first steps towards converting to Judaism; also last year, I abandoned my attempt. It was partly that I find it hard to stick at any discipline, being bone-idle and highly hedonistic (for instance, I was only a lesbian for six months), and I realised that Judaism was such an extraordinarily complex and rich religion that I would really have to commit to do it properly. As I can't even commit to Lost or any of those long American television shows, this seemed unlikely.
I also began to feel a tiny bit ridiculous trotting to shul every Saturday, in a way that I didn't feel going to church on a Sunday, even though I found the Jewish idea of one deity far more sensible than the Father, Son and Holy Ghost free-for-all. I'm well aware that everyone who isn't a complete self-deluding fool finds themselves preposterous at times, but I didn't want this to happen because of a culture that I have such respect for.
I suppose what it boils down to is that I've always hated phoneys, and anyone who changes their name, their accent or their religion seems to me to be doing the cultural equivalent of putting a crochet crinoline lady on a toilet roll. Far better, if the religion you're born into doesn't convince you, to simply let it lie and act out your faith in a private capacity – for me, volunteering and giving away loadsamoney.
Of course, there is one religion which proscribes its followers under threat of death from rejecting it, and that is Islam. Which just happens to be the one that Lauren Booth (born a Catholic called Sarah) has opted for.
It's hard to know where to start when describing the sheer ickiness of Booth. That she works as a paid stooge for the murderous Iranian regime's television channel has to come pretty near the top. A woman, choosing to act a front for a gang of thugs who uphold the punishment of death by stoning for adulteresses! This is surely Stockholm Syndrome gone gaga.
Her entirely inappropriate addiction to the spotlight, although she was obviously designed as one of Nature's plus-ones, is another stand-out feature. A failed actress, a mediocre hack, it's pretty fair to say we would never have heard of her had her half-sister not married a man who became Prime Minister. And now her meal-ticket is Mohammed.
Yes, it seems that even the faith she was raised in isn't narrow-minded, patriarchal and oppressive enough for the sensation-hungry Booth, who having tried everything else is so jaded that she can only get a kick from self-denial. (There does seem to be a particular affinity between Catholics and Muslims – Jew-hating is a great bonding agent.) And a kick it is – she describes her engagement with faith in terms that veer between the drooling of a clammy adolescent ("this shot of spiritual morphine, just absolute bliss and joy") and that of a recovering alcoholic clinging desperately to the wreckage of her sobriety ("I haven't had a drink in 45 days!")
We've all done embarrassing things, but the spectacle of Booth attempting to rap in the celebrity jungle does seem to indicate that she is the sort of dweeb who would do anything to get in with the tough kids – who she now perceives as being the Muslims.
Maybe like a lot of Western cowards, she thinks that if she sucks up to Islamism hard enough she will be spared its rage. Personally, I prefer to aspire to the words of the great Spanish anti-fascist activist Dolores "La Pasionaria" Ibarruri; "It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees."
As I pointed out in this column a while back, the website Iranian.com, a voice of the country's exiles, recently ran a photo of Miss Booth in full modesty drag, with the headline HAS THIS WOMAN GONE MAD? and the comment "in donning the hijab, she is kowtowing to the very fundamentalism that holds the fate of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in its hands ... To use the language that Booth might to describe Israel's excesses, it is shameful and disgusting that she a) works for Press TV, and b) agrees to wear Islamic headgear on screen."
What sort of woman freely converts to a religion which supports the oppression, torment and murder of thousands of Christians, homosexuals and spirited women, worldwide, every year? The sort of woman who writes love letters to a serial killer, I reckon. Still, might as well look on the bright side. Go on, Lauren, treat yourself to a full-face and – most essentially – mouth-covering burka!
If your Iranian paymasters and puppet-masters won't spring for it, I'd be more than happy to.
A gap-tooth smirk at those who have cosmetic surgery
When I was young and gorgeous, occasionally someone would be brave or dumb enough to tell me that if I had my gappy teeth fixed, I would be even cuter. I would always say the same thing: "But if I had any more sex, I would be in a wheelchair. And surely the only reason people want to look better is to have more sex?"
Decades on, my looks gone, I don't despise people who have cosmetic procedures but I do feel pity for them, because it means that: a) they haven't got the life they want and: b) they care what people think of them, and that's always a bit of a buzz-kill. With this in mind, I couldn't help smirking to see that the gappy teeth which some sad souls tried to convince me would blight my life are now all the rage, with women paying up to three times the cost of standard perfect teeth for customised nasty veneers featuring gaps and staining.
If I was a people-pleasing drip, I dare say I would feel some sort of affirmation. As it is, I'm afraid it seems just as pointless as any sort of appearance alteration. When will women ever learn that what men want is someone who is FUN TO BE WITH? If you want to find love, just stop being a bore; everything else is just window dressing.
Israel can teach us about tolerance and happiness
I was interested to see that Britain now ranks as the 13th happiest country in the world. It seems pretty respectable, but many people seem to think we should be up there with the Scandinavians. As they're so rich and good-looking, this is unlikely. But there are certain things we could do to pull level with, say, Israel, which was named the eighth happiest country in the world – coming in above Britain and the US – in a poll conducted by Gallup between the years 2005 and 2009 and published in Forbes magazine earlier this year. In Tel Aviv last week, I noticed that both smoking and dogs were allowed in restaurants, and I've rarely seen a perkier lot of people. By the way, I don't have a smoking habit or a dog – just a very tolerant nature. Try it – it might make you happier.
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