the brilliantly leaping gazelle

Tag: Chris Morris

In a parallel world, is Renton from ‘Trainspotting’ a bit like Adam Johnson…?

Before I go any further I would just like to make it clear that what follows is not meant to be an excuse for, and neither should it be interpreted as, a justification for  Adam Johnson. No doubt you’ll be aware of who this individual is. But in case you’re not here is a short summary of why he’s in the news. He was earlier this week convicted of grooming and kissing a 15-year-old girl and engaging in sexual activity with her. The judge warned him that he faces a lengthy custodial sentence. To anyone right minded any individual who has sexual relations with a minor is worthy of vilification, ostracism, and lots of other –isms.


Despite not wishing to seem to be providing a spurious means of explaining away Johnson’s crime, they perfectly illustrate the dichotomy inherent in society’s attitude towards the sexualisation of children. I cannot help but compare his treatment and vilification in both the courts, the press and the court of public opinion, unfavourably with the treatment handed out to Bill Wyman. You remember Bill Wyman don’t you? Him from the Rolling Stones who admitted having started an affair with Mandy Smith when she was 14 years old – she claims that the relationship was sexual – before a short lived marriage when she was 18. The police subsequently decided not to bring any charges against Wyman despite the fact that like Johnson he knew that the girl in question was clearly under age, but unlike Johnson his alleged sexual activity with the young Mandy might reasonably cause a cacophony of alarm bells. One might imagine for example, the arbiter of all that is moral in this country, the Daily Mail to fulminate and denounce him as a wicked individual and a corrupter of innocence, but there was not. Certainly the police wouldn’t act that way now, not with child sex abuse investigations rightly held to more scrutiny than before.

This double standard is reflected in all sections of the mass media and in popular culture. It is hardly fair to single out the Daily Mail for opprobrium when the majority media are just as culpable. The sexualisation of young teenage girls – from Primark selling push up bras for girls young as seven, to a fifth of 12 year olds reluctant to go out without make up on, from catwalk models as young as 14, to beauty pageants for very young girls and most disturbing of all, sex shops selling ‘naughty’ school uniform costumes – an alarmingly worrying backward trend has taken place culturally. We are entering a new era, rather like the Victorian one, where sex was puritanical in public, yet perverse in private. Similarly despite repeated calls for something to be done, nothing is. The hypocrisy is widerife. Somehow I don’t think this was what he had in mind when the then Prime Minister John Major called for a return to ‘Victorian values.’

The hypocrisy inherent in such posturing was evidenced by the reaction to the ‘Brass Eye’ paedophille special. Now as anyone familiar with my blogs will no doubt be aware, I hold Chris Morris in the very highest of regards. It is my opinion that the ‘Brass Eye’ paedophile special was bang on target. (Although given that the media’s sometimes voyeuristic portrayal of paedophilia, and its focus on the more titillating aspects of it was the target, it was an easy one to hit. It wasn’t – and didn’t seek to – to make light of the serious nature of paedophilia.) But this didn’t stop the then Labour Child Protection Minister Beverly Hughes from condemning the programme with indignation, without having endured the tiresome necessity of actually being bothered enough to watch it. In so doing, she articulated the very problem that Morris was so effectively lampooning; that not only are certain subject matters ill-served by framing them in a simplistic televisual narrative, but also that some people who pontificate from the high moral ground sometimes fail to realise that the ground on which they are standing is but sand.

This was further exemplified by an edition of the Daily Star a few days later, when on the page proceeding a condemnatory article about the ‘Brass Eye’ special there was a photo of the singer Charlotte Church – who was then aged 15 – captioned “She’s A Big Girl Now!”

It’s not that I’m excusing Johnson but in a parallel world isn’t he a bit like Renton from the film ‘Trainspotting’? Renton sees Diane at a club, she takes him home, they do the beast with two backs, only for him to discover the next morning she’s in fact a schoolgirl.


(If you’re a female and reading this then I would urge you to think back to your teenage years when in order to gain entry to a nightclub or to get served in a pub you would judiciously apply your make up to look older than you were.) Quite often this ends in nothing more than innocent fun, but it is easier I would contend for a young girl to look older than she is, than for a young man to look older than he is.

One more thing, the age of consent varies widely in Europe. In some countries it’s 14, in others its 18. I would say that having an age of consent of 14 years of age is hard to swallow but given what I’ve written above I don’t think its all that appropriate.

So the problem is society’s. That’s not to in any way to suggest that adults shouldn’t take responsibility for their own actions but in a culture where young girls are objectified, where young people have to be reminded that domestic violence and rape is both morally abnormal and antithetical to civilised society then really; should we be all that surprised when someone does an Adam Johnson?




(If you’re getting this as an email, sadly you won’t get the embedded you tube links of ‘Trainspotting’ and a news report of beauty pageants. Possibly the web links as well. Those can be found on my blog page.)

Misadventures with Bell’s Palsy…the ‘Pollyanna’ philosophy to life…

One of the many thorny issues I’ve wrestled with over the years has been the question of whether it is better to be stupid than clever. This has never been an idle speculation on my part. I’m quite serious. If one were stupid for example, one wouldn’t know they were stupid and they could just blunder through life without being troubled by any notion of consequence or foresight. They could exist quite happily, effectively unencumbered by any thoughts except those relating to their own immediate needs. Whereas an intelligent person possesses the mental acuity to discern what the likely consequence of an action might be and therefore decide if it’s in their best interests or not. A stupid person will just blunder on regardless whereas an intelligent person might weigh up the pros and cons.
Speaking of stupidity, this leads me nicely on to the fact that some of my relatives in Ireland – just to be clear, I’m saying that religious belief, not my relatives is stupid – have for some inexplicable reason taken it upon themselves to light candles and say prayers at churches for my speedy recovery. But given that I’m an atheist and make no secret of the fact – viewing religion as a fairy tale for grown ups – one questions who benefits from all of this? Perhaps they’re doing it to bask in the glow of a good deed, in this case the glow being the one candle gives off. Faith might be a great pop song, but otherwise it’s as much use as a cup of warm spit. One thing that I’ve always found deludingly contrary about some people is that whilst they condemn religion because of it’s lack of any evidence whatsoever, they somehow don’t subject homeopathy to the same evidential criteria. Have they heard about the placebo effect? Or regression to the mean, whereby almost 80% of all illnesses will get better without any intervention? But silly me, water has a memory, as proved by the glass in front of me which has a molecule that has a distant memory of once being turned into wine!
Anyway, you don’t want to read about all that!
No, I promised you unflinching details of my adventures with Bell’s Palsy and that’s what you’re about to get, although if you’re in a good mood, keep it that way by clicking here, here or here.
When I was in hospital, and the diagnosis of Bell’s Palsy was made, with it there came information, advice and a prescription. But if any mention was made of the crucial importance of keeping the eye lubricated by the constant application of creams and eye drops – because now I look like Patrick Moore with my left eye unable to close unassisted resulting in no blinking and thereby no natural lubrication of they eye – it didn’t register, and believe you me, I was paying attention!
It wasn’t a stroke, I thought! But close on its heels came the negative, ‘In what way is temporary facial paralysis good news? That it isn’t permanent facial paralysis? You’ve got a severe brain injury and now this. F*ck-a-doodle-do!’ That’s the great thing about hospitals, nowhere else is less bad than very bad news seen as good news. “Well, it’s not as bad as it could’ve been!” is a philosophy worthy of Pollyanna!
The application of cream and eye drops to keep they eyeball from drying out and risking long-term damage is in no way assisted by my lack of fine motor skills. With the cream, you apply a thin line to the lower rim of the eye socket. This requires precision and quick co-ordination, because the cream erupts as soon as the cap is removed and the cream has to be laid in a continuous movement along the rim without the nozzle actually touching the rim. As Bernard Manning once observed a different context, ”One young kiddy..cried all the water out of his body.” (If you’ve never seen the genius that is a Chris Morris wind up, please click, because the first time I saw this I laughed so much I nearly shat a cartwheel!) I would try and cry, if it wasn’t for the fact that my left eyes tear ducts seem to have joined most of the left side of my face, and gone on strike. Despite the heroic endeavors of Blue Eyes and Avril – who’s schlepped across London most nights to apply the cream – I nonetheless took myself up at Moorfields Eye Hospital on Wednesday.

I was in no small way getting increasingly concerned about the state of my eyeball and the way it felt, and I thought I needed a competent examination of my eye, so naturally I went to an eye hospital. During one eye examination I was asked to put one hand over my good eye and to read some letters off a wall with my left eye, only to discover that all I could see out of my left eye was a blurred image. The nurse bade me to take a seat and thoughts of permanent eye damage, which were coursing through my head with increasing dire outcomes, like a large gang of teenagers swarming through a bus, I realised with a sense of relief that Matthew – my support worker – had some minutes earlier put some cream into my eye and that this was a more likely explanation of my blurred vision. Although one good thing did come of it, inasmuch as it expedited my next examination. A young doctor who exuded calm authority examined my eyes and pronounced that there was no major eye damage. Naturally I thought ‘What about minor damage, what about that? Was there any? What is he not telling me?. With regard to me asking what was the best way to prevent the eye from drying out completely, he advised keeping it taped down as often as possible. Given that application of the cream is essential and also makes the skin below the eye greasy, this is not helped by the fact that none of the sticky tape isn’t that sticky. Taping the eye down sounds fine, until that is, one tries it! (Or given my lack of fine motor skills, someone else tries it.) I’d use gaffer tape, only I don’t want my eyelashes to come away each time the gaffer tape is removed. Or the top layer of skin – although that boat may have sailed by now.

On the subject of keeping my eyelid closed to prevent long term damage to the eyeball he suggested two options. The first one would involve stitching my eyelids together – sounds like an eminently logical solution to me, one to be considered. No, seriously! And as if to emphasise this point, Blue Eyes has just been engaged in the frustratingly exasperating activity of trying to tape my eyelid shut, using wholly ineffective tools! The biggest tool being me, of course! The second one would involve attaching a weight to my upper eyelid to drag it down somewhat. Naturally I thought of a Prince Albert, one could just swap the weight from one eye to the other.

Or as Blue Eye’s daughter – Little Miss Sunshine enquired when she looked at my face “Do the batteries in your eye not work?” As a way of explaining the effects of facial paralysis, batteries not working, is a delightfully simple way to explain something very complex.
Right now, it feels as if they’ll always be flat.

Next time…More misadventures with Bell’s Palsy, as a diet it’s extreme, but effective…