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I noticed this article in the Guardian this morning. It’s essentially about ageing and one’s attitude to it.
I generally like to think I have a fairly young outlook on life but two things keep intervening -i.e. the wrinkly grey haired reflection staring back from the mirror, and of course the involuntary reactionary outbursts at the world around me.
I’m not quite sure how long I’ve been coming out with conversation themed on the relative price of goods, the relative quality of music and the relative attitude of teenagers in the time-frame from 1976 to present but it has been a while.
That apart I am genuinely shocked when I see people that I was at school with. I’ll see people I maybe haven’t seen for 20-25 years and think “Christ! they look old and done. Thank goodness I don’t look as old as that!” Safe and secure in the knowledge that they of course will not be remotely thinking the same as they look back at me.
The thing that really shocks me is the way that some have so readily succumbed to the trappings of middle age. I mean perhaps religiously dressing one’s self from Marks and Spencers or ordering a pair of vinyl shoes (stylish! comfortable!) from the classifieds in the Daily Express.
I saw an old classmate the other day. He was clothed almost entirely in a shade somewhere between beige and misty buff. A baldy heid, and pepper moustache and accompanying grandchild topped off the image. He looked about 80 but was in fact around 53
And yet I find myself looking at Volvos and Hondas as a possible means of transport. I’ve also become increasingly aware of advertising for funeral expenses, Saga Holidays and cheaper car insurance for the decrepit.
Going back to the Guardian article, they ask how old you are and how old you feel.
I am of course 35 but I feel much younger than that.
I may have given the impression in my rant the other day that I didn’t care about prison conditions. In fact I received a long and thoughtful email from a reader expressing disappointment with some of the views expressed.
Let me make it clear that I became acutely aware of prison conditions at a young age. I experienced them at very close quarters and in 1970s Glasgow they were grim indeed. Sewing and lettering mailbags was no urban legend. That was what many inmates had to do for their 25p per week.
Some of the more resourceful ones would blag ink from that job so that they could top up their ballpoint pens and therefore write more letters home to loved ones.
Visiting was one hour per week.
There was a culture of beatings by prison officers on inmates.
And I’m acutely aware too that there were many injustices. At that time a safe blower called Johnny Ramenski was in Barlinnie as an elderly man. British intelligence had used him and his skills during the second world war but he was quickly forgotten and abandoned when his heroism and risk taking were no longer needed.
Fortunately conditions and culture have improved in many ways since then.
I perhaps got a bit carried away with my remarks about Nat Fraser, but the fact that there are many people who really should never have seen the inside of prison walls threw the Fraser case into sharp focus for me.
On this father’s day I hope sincerely that prison conditions continue to improve.
Andy Gray and Richard Keys possibly inhabit a world which hasn’t moved on much from a kind of Bernard Manning/Jim Davidson circa 1975 axis. I wouldn’t have said the kind of things they said the other day and nor do I approve of them. However the remarks they came away with were obviously meant as a joke, no matter how tasteless that joke was. Gray’s behaviour towards the young female TV presenter in the clip I posted was boorish and ignorant. Again the eejit thought it was funny and the woman (Charlotte?) sent him a disdainful look which silently (and correctly) suggested ‘You sad pathetic individual’.
In the grand scheme of things these incidents were wrong but dare I say it, were no big deal.
I’m baffled though. I had a chat yesterday with a pal of mine who defended Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand at the time of ‘Sachsgate’. I thought their leaving the remarks they did on a voicemail and broadcasting it to millions was akin to walking over to someone in a restaurant and gobbing on their meal.
My friend who defended them at the time thought it was quite correct for Gray and Keys to be sacked when their tasteless but private remarks were overheard.Yet he continues to defend Ross and Brand for a very personal verbal attack on an old man and his granddaughter which was quite deliberately broadcast to an audience of millions.
Where are we as a society when a broadcaster can show fully scripted and pre recorded shows containing material which mocks disability and goodness knows how many other discriminatory subjects with impunity? and yet will not tolerate an overheard private conversation?
Maybe the thought police have the answer.
Footnote: On last night’s Question Time, Edwna Currie came away with the following:
“I cheered when Andy Gray was sacked for his totally unacceptable remarks and behaviour. He is nothing but a fat slob”.
She is the environment secretary and is the second most powerful woman in the cabinet.
When asked about the French ban on the burka, Mrs Spelman insisted that it (the burka) was “empowering”. She told Sky News: “I take a strong view on this, actually.
“I don’t, living in this country as a woman, want to be told what I can and can’t wear.
“One of the things we pride ourselves on in this country is being free, and being free to choose what you wear is a part of that, so actually banning the burka is absolutely contrary I think to what this country is all about.
“I’ve been out to Afghanistan and I think I understand much better as a result of actually visiting why a lot of Muslim women want to wear the burka.
“It is part of their culture, it is part of understanding that they choose to go out in the burka and I think those that live in this country, if they choose to wear a burka, should be free to do so.”
Dearie me. There are reasons for not banning the burka but to somehow portray the garment as empowering and dignified, is frankly bonkers.
The best quote has to be:
“I don’t, living in this country as a woman, want to be told what I can and can’t wear.”