Monday, 2 February 2009

Charge of the PC Brigade

Strange weekend abounds.

On Friday, a story breaks in the newspaper that my publisher has changed the words of a famous children's song. The accusation is that it has been changed to be more PC as the original contains references to drunkenness and torture. Actually, it was changed for other reasons, and four months ago. Now the story has broken in the paper and the knives are. We field phonecalls from concerned citizens. We monitor newspaper messageboards go nuts. All over a sea shanty. Apparently we are destroying the core of Britain. The reactionary complaint mechanism of a Britain so defensive of its inability to harness its existing identity into a series of codecs, instead sweating the small stuff, unwilling to realise that their identity is clear for everyone else. Yet, this is another nail in the coffin for Nanny Britain, they tell us seething with rage. Actually, this is a nail in the coffin for forward-thinking Britain. Unable to know your history to shape your futures, marginalised sections of society feel they need to hold on to tiny parsecs of their culture, not knowing who they are. I want to help, I've struggled with my identity too. But I got to its core and I can help you Sun readers. First step, take a deep breath. Realise that this sea shanty is not important, it doesn't ruin the memory of your war hero ancestors, changing it is not rewriting history. Instead, you're changing the course that has been set out for Great Britain; you're stifling the children of the future with your inability to move forward.

On Saturday, we attend a wedding where two odd occurrences hold court. Firstly, the DJ looks like a thumb. There is no discernible distinction between chin and neck. Not only that but he's burly and bald and standing behind the decks like a bouncer. No one feels like dancing because they're scared of him injecting and ejecting them from the premises 'cos their name's not daaaahn.' He's stood next to a seated Pat Butcher-a-like, performing no obvious function other than staring at him morosely. Maybe she is Death and has promised him one last hurrah between taking him to the netherworlds. He keeps playing the same songs again, spiking the volumes up and down, staring in disbelief at an empty dancefloor and wondering why, when he goes from a hit to something obscure and poppy, no one is interested. He blows his wad in the first 45 minutes by playing all the uptempo wedding songs. By the end he's run out of CDs and is repeating a set, as if it's all preprogrammed on CD anyway. He tries playing Scooter but an audible groan and clearing of people makes him take it off. He forces the bride and groom to have the Hokie Cokie as their final dance. He smiles blankly as he packs up, knowing he'll be complaining about our lack of enthusiasm in the pub tomorrow.

I am introduced to a bewildered wedding guest as 'an Indian' which helps the confusion subside.

One of the guests is Jack Bauer. Or at least an English version of him. A soldier who is currently seeing action, obviously going through some things in his head, dealing with the lack of humanity in soldiering and then going to the ultimate love-in of a wedding. No one wants to engage him for fear of a lethal judo-chop when our feelings about the war emerge. He sits in the corner and seethes at the DJ spending the evening piping up with new and interesting ways to take him out and destroy him. He says that if we check out late due to oversleeping and if the hotel clamps our car, he'll run to the nearest B&Q, buy a bolt cutter and destroy their hotel with it. He is Jack Bauer- tightly wound and ready to spring into actionat any second. He gets drunk and we play some quiz machines later on. He threatens the machine when we get answers wrong, expecting it to fold under his super soldier gaze. I feel like the biggest wimp in the world. Now I know what Jack Bauer at a wedding would be like.


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