As a pleb, I’m dismayed not to have experienced the full umbrage owed to me during the Andrew Mitchell “plebgate”. Perhaps it’s down to my poor education, or the fact that I subsisted for most of the 1980s on complex carbs fried in Stork SB – often shared with a Staffordshire Bull terrier called Bess – that my outrage glands aren’t functioning. I cared slightly, for three minutes, then I deeply didn’t care. I care more now about the risible faux-drama based on political gain.
“But do you not realise the importance,” friends have said, pulling themselves up to full-scale harrumph. “Of a public servant using class-based dergogatory slang against the police force?” I must have been napping during the big chattering classes “We HATE the police they’re corrupt thugs/We LOVE the police, they are sacred cows who must never have their feelings hurt” changeover some time last week. I missed this memo. I know I’ve watched enough Sky TV Police Camera Action to know that, in the real world, the police seem to carry some spitting, swearing, kebab-chucking, head-butting loon into a van, only for Michael Burke to wearily explain in voiceover that “the man was later released without arrest” about every 20 minutes, so to suddenly hear that shouting “Pleb” requires a week-long inquiry has been fascinating.
However you feel about the police, Mitchell puffing and panting towards them on his Raleigh chopper with a raffia shopping basket – I like to believe this is what he rides – having his routine marred, then getting his knickers in a twist and being all boggle-eyed eyed, is slightly funny. Blimey, who knew Whips were angry curmudgeons who like their own way? (Answer: anyone who knows anything about Westminster, giving birth to the character Malcolm Tucker, one of the 21st-century’s best-loved dramatic anti-heroes).
Whips – and this isn’t officially on the job-spec, but should be – are dicks. Their job is being obsterperous barely concealed tyrants. It’s the only reason anything gets done and parliament isn’t just an abandoned chamber with three newby try-hards in suits doing all the voting while 300 MPs on sicknotes paddle and eat choc-ices off the coast of Hove.
I’d be unshocked if the word “pleb” were in Mitchell’s artillery during a minor meltdown. Neither would he be shocked to hear the words “You posh prick” or “You pissing little Fauntleroy” drip from my lips if he tackled me on a bad day. These bleak words, these ingrained hostilities, these pullings of rank and childish insults bubble within us. Posho Mitchell under pressure supposedly quacking “pleb” is the same as honest-to-goodness John Prescott punching hell out of a passer-by who chucked an egg. Rich or poor we are condemned by DNA to display our classes’ worst trait when cornered.
Class slander is everywhere. When David Cameron announced he was joining Twitter this week, I thought, Prepare, my ruddy-cheeked amigo, to be, as they say, PWNED. The class hatred you’ll be treated to – about you, your fragrant wife and your jocund social circle – will be so bile-fuelled that you’ll feel like popping down to the Downing Street gates and asking the police to slam them on your head just for a treat.
With regards to “name-calling”, the one thing I’ve learned as a columnist and internet addict over the past decade is – when no one has political gain to make from it, no-body actually gives a damn. It’s a free-for-all. It seems odd that Andrew Mitchell saying a few insulting words to the police can be national news for days when over on the internet the bleakest abuse is scatter-gunned daily and the accepted modern notion is “words can never hurt hurt”. The advice to someone with a social network account being called a pleb would be to grow a thicker skin, ignore it, not put yourself in a position people infuriate you. It’s an odd state of affairs where things seem more sensible on the internet.
Not such a black and white issue, Nick
Just when Nick Clegg couldn’t seem any less reliable as a human being he’s announced that as an “animal-lover” he’s in full support of the Somserset and Gloucester badger cull.
Maybe he’s realised that a badger stood upright in a Next suit with policies mainly involving “scrabbling in mud” and “trying not to spread TB, but no guarantees” has more chance of success than him in future elections.
More seriously, it’s time for a proper debate in the Commons about the issue. The online petition currently stands at 105,000 signatures. Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh argues that the Government is pressing ahead with the cull, despite official advice that it will cost more than it saves and will actually spread bovine TB in the short term as badgers are disturbed by the shooting.
But Clegg’s not moved by these types of words. I look forward in a few years time to a special edit of his “I’m sorry” charity track, where he can rhyme “badgers” with “I’m a jelly-elbowed pain in the nadgers.”
We all have our crosses to bear. Mine is Jesus Christ Superstar
Last Saturday’s trip to watch Jesus Christ Superstar at the o2 Arena – starring Chris Moyles, Tim Minchin and Mel C – put paid to any quibbles I had about the existence of God, for he would not allow me to suffer in this way.
Musicals are a trial at the best of times. I wish them on my enemies. The perfect Christmas gift for someone who has wronged you is front-row Wednesday matinee Mamma Mia! watching people not good enough to be in Holby doing step-together, step-kick frugging in bacofoil 70s flared suits which gave up the fight against Febreeze in 1998. Or Stomp, because there’s nothing nicer than watching people with face piercings hit a bin lid with a wooden spoon for 90 minutes.
Yet Jesus Christ Superstar has none of these redeeming features. Set clumsily around the theme of Occupy London, Jesus appears from his tiny tent and moans for two solid hours at a load of stage-school kids body-popping in DM boots and dreadlock wigs.
The entire musical is staged on a drab grey staircase, no other set dressing apparently necessary. A tressle table livened up the Jesus-goes-to-a-nightclub scene though. It was a bloody relief when they crucified him.