John Reid, leader of the House of Commons, is reported today to be under fire for saying of Iraq: “I believe there are weapons of mass destruction there. I know we haven’t found them yet, but because we haven’t found them yet no more means that there was not a threat than not finding the money stolen from the Great Train Robbery means that Ronnie Biggs was innocent.” This Prescottesque tongue-and-truth-twister is even worse than Jack “Short” Straw’s “rewriting of history” yesterday when he said “it’s not crucial” now to find the weapons. All this comes despite Tony Blair going on and on like a bloody scratched record for weeks before the war about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction (the expression was of course used so much that he had to truncate it to “WMD”) being the pretext for military action, which we all knew was bullshit anyway. My respect for our politicans just gets lower – at the same rate, in fact, as their respect for the intelligence of the people they claim to represent disintegrates. How can people like Straw live with themselves? Why not just go and get an honest job like being a milkman or something? It might not pay as much but at least it’d be human.
* * *
If you missed the BBC2 programme “The Nation’s Favourite Food” last night, think yourself lucky. My wife and I were watching it while we were eating… never again. This alleged top ten of the UK’s favourite “seduction” foods included strawberries in chocolate, and, of all things, prawns. They also interviewed an inarticulate 12-year-old DJ about champagne, filmed a bunch of sloane-rangerettes blowing up a kitchen in an attempt to make chocolate vodka cocktails, showed Melinda Messenger spitting out an oyster and, perhaps worst of all, filmed Peter Stringfellow. In his kitchen. Cooking a chicken casserole for his girlfriend. I mean, Jesus. It made us yearn for a Get It On bar.
For anyone who doesn’t watch TV or doesn’t live in the UK, this was just the latest TV show in recent weeks claiming to represent the UK’s favourite this-or-that as voted for by viewers. In the past few weeks alone we’ve had the UK’s top 100 film stars, the UK’s top 100 romantic films, the 100 worst people in the UK (all on Channel 4, it should be said), not to mention the soon-to-be-announced BBC Big Read, a poll of the UK’s favourite 100 books. I’m all for anything that encourages people to read, but even that’s a bit of a naff idea (especially as the number one will probably be something I haven’t read). Something else I haven’t read is Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man but this total lack of imagination on the part of TV programme-makers is the Last Straw and would seem to bear out the feeling that The End of Television is nigh. How many more cruddy TV shows can they make on the basis of things voted for by viewers? More importantly, when are TV companies going to realise that the results of these programmes don’t represent the views of the UK but instead just the views of the six people who voted? Plus, the only people who do vote in these things are people who don’t do anything except watch cruddy TV programmes all day. It’s like that exchange in Woody Allen’s Manhattan:
IKE: You’re going by the audience reaction to this? I mean, this is an audience that’s raised on television. Their standards have been systematically lowered over the years… these guys sit in front of their sets and the gamma rays eat the white cells of their brains out… I quit.
DICK: All right. Just relax. Take a lude.
IKE: All you guys do is drop ludes and take Percodans and angel dust! Naturally, the show seems funny.