I spent a jovial afternoon yesterday observing imbeciles live-tweeting the breaking of their own televisions.
I say “imbeciles”, as this is an apt word to describe the British lionhearts who – on noticing Channel 4 was planning to cater for viewers fasting for Ramadan by broadcasting the adhan at 3am, when our patriotic pals would almost certainly be asleep – immediately began detuning their TV sets as a boycott.
As tweets flooded in from racists jabbing at lesser-used buttons on their remote handsets and poking holes on the side of the TV with unfurled paper clips, I took some comfort in their idiocy. Just like those charming EDL boys we saw last month giving Nazi salutes at the cenotaph last month “in support of drummer Lee Rigby” here we witnessed a grade of mean-spiritedness displayed by people too porridge-brained to be wholly feared.
I doubt they know or care that Channel 4 has been giving airtime to minority religions, lesser known political movements and off-piste schools of thought for more than three decades. Remember chipper Michael Rosen’s children’s show Everybody Here in the 1980s, where he’d meet Hindu disco-dancing teens and tag along with African immigrant kids enjoying their first British Christmas?
“Look, we’re all here together,” the vibe said. “Let’s just have fun and get along.” Were these Channel 4 boycotters ever cheery children with open minds? Maybe not. And what about the Kabbadi tournaments, the alternative Christmas messages, and the nightly “4thought” films giving acres of airspace to hardline Catholics, Buddhist chanters, stern rabbis and those who want to shout: “I don’t give a damn about any of your gods”. If Islamophobes feel this station has ever pandered to Muslims, then they’re exactly as daft as they look.
If people feel provoked – as some claim they are – by the mention of Ramadan, then congratulations to Channel 4 for attempting to educate them. I’m not a Muslim, but after decades living among people who do observe the festival, it seems to be a peculiar thing to get het up over. Ramadan, to the casual onlooker, ie me, seems very much like Lent (setting limits and restrictions on yourself in the name of God) mixed with the similar intentions of post-Xmas secular Brits during “sober January”. This is a time to reset the body and mind’s clock and take stock of life. Mix with this a large heap of the Children In Need spirit (stacks of charity work and good deeds, money tins rattled, tonight thank God it’s them instead of you, etc).
When I first encountered Ramadan, many years ago, it seemed at first a mysterious, serious regime, nowadays it’s just plain old Ramadan. Dates get eaten, exercise regimes put on hold, your friends are a bit knackered and hungry during the day, like they’re on the 5:2 diet. And then, as quickly as the Eid chocolate advent calenders have arrived in Sainsbury’s, it’s all over for another year, and boxes of fireworks from the stall in Asda are being let off in back-gardens along my street.
People get a bit giddy, they visit their gran in new clothes and eat a lot of rich food (in fact, this bit is exactly like Christmas). I know this sort of stuff through not being the sort of person who breaks my own television when a Muslim call to prayer is scheduled for broadcast – at a time when I’m likely to be in bed, dreaming about Tommy Robinson from the EDL riding a lion with St George on the back through Trafalgar Square or whatever it is that racist dunderheads cuddle their teddies and think about. I’ve no intention of observing Ramadan myself, but you people certainly put me off my dinner.
Don’t tell Theresa May about mini-trampolines
Home Secretary Theresa May has defied the advice of her own drugs advisers, announcing that the substance khat will be made a Class C drug as soon as possible. It’s used mostly by older males of the Somali, Yemeni and Ethiopian communities. Broadly speaking, it’s like the middle-ground between chewing snuff and a mouth full of twigs. This should keep the police nice and busy. Why Theresa takes advice on drugs at all is a mystery. I suppose it’s nice to get out and have some meetings with experts, even if their input is superfluous. Back in January the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs said there was “insufficient evidence” that Khat caused health problems. They said it causes a “mild stimulant effect, much less potent than stimulant drugs, such as amphetamine”. What is that buzz akin to? An extra strong mint and a shot of vodka? You could get higher and dizzier on a mini-trampoline from Argos, but don’t tell Theresa that – she’ll ban them.
If Bebo went broke, could Twitter wither?
Michael and Xochi Birch, the husband and wife team who founded social networking site Bebo and sold it to AOL for $850 million, have bought it back for $1 million. Oh how fickle the cyberworld is. Wither Friends Reunited? Fairwell Myspace! What will become of my beloved Twitter? Will it one day be tossed onto the hard shoulder of the internet super-highway? The Birches are toying with the idea of building up Bebo again, just for the hell of it. I find their easy-come easy-go attitude to making money delicious. When questioned on how they had celebrated making $850m they said: “We actually just went to the cinema — it was the first chance we’d had to go without the kids for months. I think we spent all of $10. There wasn’t a single moment of euphoria. Ultimately it took months and there were uncertainties, but then it was signed. We’d sold other firms, so we weren’t going from total poverty — and we didn’t really have anything we needed to spend money on.” Let’s hope Bebo Round 2 keeps them so grounded.