Archive for February 7th, 2007

Three Men, Three Guitars, Two Beards

A bit of a Richard Thompson fan, I, and his new song – Dad’s Gonna Kill Me – is top drawer stuff lyrically and musically.

He says:

This song’s title, ‘Dad’s Gonna Kill Me’ is a typical response to existence in Baghdad, along with ‘Dad’s in a bad mood’ and ‘Dad’s got the blues’, also quoted in the song.

Can’t find the lyrics.

While I’m on the subject of anti-war older rockers, I bought a copy of Bruce Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions a couple of weeks ago, and have played it umpteen times. A bonus track on the edition I bought is a version of Bring ’em Home, sung by Bruce here:

Favourite line: “we’ll give no more brave young lives/for the gleam in someone’s eyes”

And you can hear Pete Seeger singing it here, with different -but no less powerful- lyrics here:

Most Bigoted Housing Market In The Universe

Northern Ireland is the ‘most bigoted place in the western world‘, if a survey is to be believed. Apparently 44% of respondents to the survey said they did not want to live next door to Muslims, Jews, homosexuals or people of other races living next door.

This comes hot on the heels of news that Northern Ireland house prices are rocketing faster than anywhere else.

It all makes sense. As the number of Muslim, Jewish, black and gay people coming to Northern Ireland increases, the likelihood that you will have to live next door to one increases. The supply of houses with white Protestant British neighbours or white Catholic Irish neighbours on either side falls, yet the demand for the same increases, ergo house price inflation.

Foreign investors: bear in mind that ‘exclusive range of apartments designed for contemporary living‘ may mean something different in relation to Northern Ireland.

Poo Nanny

One of the things that stops me from writing more here is the knowledge that I have said the same thing, or something very similar, at some point in the past.

I used to know a History Ph.D who had received his undergraduate degree at Harvard. Every time I met him, which was nearly every night in the pub for months on end, he would badger me -and anyone else who would listen- about how there was too much dead wood (his phrase) on the History faculty at Harvard, and how they were all incapable of revealing anything new or interesting about their subject. The irony of the situation was, of course, lost on him.

However, let he who is without sin etc. It is rather hard to say different things when the events and texture of every day are the same, and I have often found myself repeating the same story or observation to the same person, often in the same place, and without the assistance of drink. As you get older, it becomes more probable that this sort of thing will happen, and the effect is to make you feel as though your life has run out of purpose. If you can’t tell new stories, or even retell old ones in a new way, and if the way you see things hasn’t altered in the slightest, what is the point of saying anything beyond the grunts you need to make in order to address your basic needs?

Anyhow, what I really wanted to say when I started typing was that I watched You Are What You Eat again last night. When people talk about something being ‘scatological’ they usually mean it loosely, but YAWYE is literally scatological in that it entails the analysis of people’s stools. Just as aristocrats in days past mounted the heads of bears or deer to demonstrate their mastery of nature, above presenter Gillian McKeith’s toilet is a framed and mounted model of the ideal stool, or the ‘perfect poo’, as she calls it.

The pursuit of the perfect poo is watched by millions every week after their dinner. No doubt most of them find the whole thing revolting, but the point is, that like me, they continue to watch nonetheless. The irony of this cannot be lost on TV producers and their sponsors. They are aware that viewers do not just want to see any old shite, and producing the perfect shite in response is their idea of black humour.

It is tempting to view this programme as poo generis, but in truth there is little difference of substance between it and other programmes that deal with the transformation of some aspect of the person’s life -all display the obnoxious host, the participant’s initial resistance, their subsequent humiliation, and their eventual submission, and then the fawning approval for having submitted to the programme’s demands.

The moral to all of them is this: it is far better to submit to authority and take the advice of the experts, because that is just the way things are. In this, You Are What You Eat is perhaps more open in its methods, with its obvious allusions to potty training. Once you have reduced the participants -and, by extension, the audience- to the level of children, their obedience opens a horizon of infinite possibility.

Tonight: Relocation, Relocation on Channel 4, followed by How Long Will You Live? on RTE 1.

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February 2007