Tomorrow's Currant Bun is splashing on Prince Harry at a party wearing a Nazi uniform: 100 pt screamer of a splash headline: "Harry The Nazi"
How stupid do you have to be to wear a Nazi costume in the 60th anniversary year of the war when you know that it will upset thousands of people, it's disrespectful and it's something your gran is sensitive about?
How stupid not work out that this is going to be snapped by any bright young spark with a cameraphone and the desire to make a minimum 500 nicker tip-off fee from The Mirror or The Sun?
Any paparazzi who got that shot will be minted by tomorrow morning: that picture is going to be used all over the world and unless a lot of people got it, it's going to be very expensive.
What really got me was that the party's fancy dress theme was given as "colonial and native". Which century is it again? Aside from the century of the fruitbat, I mean. Colonial and native? These are not value-neutral terms.
Of course, the dozy wee bastard has apologised -- or rather the now hair-deprived PRs who work for his dad have. This is a boy who is renowned for being a drinking, rousting rugger bugger, who scuffled with a photographer in public, who is so thick that they would put two short planks on Mastermind before they'd let him in the studio door, who probably cheated on his exams and still got Ds and whose nickname in the tabs for much of last year was Harry Pothead. If he had a brain cell it would be lonely
This is a rich seam of public stupidity, my friends, and I don't suppose the fact that they're packing him off to Sandhurst will entirely put an end to it.
A sneak preview of this Sunday's op-ed columns on the saga:
Model A (Sensitive Sunday Times-ish editorial)
"Why we should feel sorry for poor motherless Harry, clueless and adrift on a sea of tabloid sleaze, it was only a costume blah blah blah redemption"
Model B (Thundering Mail-On-Sunday hypocrisy)
"Someone should teach that disrespectful young whippersnapper a lesson, perhaps making him walk naked from Sandringham to Soho while Chelsea pensioners pelt him with rotten vegetables, then subject him to a sound beating by a large Finnish lady named Helga (because sometimes stick should be followed by carrot). The army will sort him out"
Model C (Achingly trendy Observer popkitten piece)
"The history of Nazi regalia as an expression of rebellion, taking in Siouxsie and the Banshees and a certain amount of post-fin de siecle jeu d'esprit etc etc"
Model D (Matily nauseating lad columnist in The Sunday People)
"Nazi regalia suits him, after all the royal family are all GERMAN anyway (ho ho ho, only jokin' your maj) That Harry he's a LAD innee. He's a ONE. He's done nothing wrong, it's just those PC bastards who are out to get him"
:::Repeat until vomiting ensues:::
I doubt most people are offended; they just think he's a vile little pillock.
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2) Effusive thanks to coffeeandink because without her, I doubt very much whether I would ever have heard of Vienna Teng. The internet is a wonderful thing.
Last night, happily, I met up with nestra (and was deserted by my restaurant karma again, so we had unexceptional Italian food at a restaurant where I'd previously had a really good meal. comice knows whereof I speak.) and we meandered to a club afterwards.
We went to see Vienna Teng in one of the smallest clubs I've ever been to (The Troubadour Cafe near Earl's Court tube, if you know London). I only saw that she was playing because I was so bored at work I had to resort to reading the smallprint listings in The Guide.
If there were more than 60 people packed in there, I'd be amazed. It was Vienna Teng's first gig in Britain, just her on the piano and her mate Marika on cello and backing vocals.
She was on a double bill with a singer-songwriter called Charity, who was from Florida and was very much in the Serious Singer-Songwriter mode. Five will get you ten that Charity has a lot of Joni Mitchell records and a thesaurus on her desk.
The most exceptional thing about Charity was how much she was the record executive's wet dream of what a female singer-songwriter would look like: thin, young, tumbling blonde curls, pert everything-that-should-be-pert, smoky if unexceptional Sheryl Crow-ish voice, little black dress.
The problem was that the songs she had written were often identikit. There would be a neat phrase here and there but everything you liked about them was something that you'd liked in a song that sounded a lot like it. My favourite of her set, Home, I liked because it had that same alternating major/minor chord structure as David Gray's Dead In The Water, which is accomplished by taking the bass note down a semitone then up a semitone (I'm sure someone who knows more about music could tell me the technical name for it)
Nor did she have a lot of charisma. Part of that could be nerves, she was only a proficient guitar player, and she didn't have much of a rapport with an audience that was fairly happy to roll over and have its tummy tickled. It's entirely possible that Charity will find her feet more with an audience and with her songwriting, in which case I will happily listen.
She was perfectly adequate and only suffered by comparison with Vienna Teng, who was funny and amazingly bright for someone with heavy duty jetlag and whose musicianship and song-writing ability was a light year ahead of her bill-mates.
Vienna Teng doesn't look like a record executive's wet dream of a singer -songwriter but she has an easy wit, a great rapport with the audience and some lovely, angular songs that go in unexpected directions lyrically and musically. Also, she likes Elbow, which gives her about 50 zillion points with this listener.
She played Gravity and The Tower first, which was a disappointment only in the sense that I love Gravity and didn't have it to look forward to any more, then segued into a couple of new songs. Then her cello player went upstairs for a glass of wine and there were solo renditions of The Atheist's Christmas Carol and of Damien Rice's Cannonball
Confession time: I am the only person on the face of the planet who cannot be arsed with Damien Rice. I gave my copy of O to lilydale when she was visiting last spring. I can see why people like him, but it Passes Me By. Now I may have to download some because damn, I loved that song.
Anyway, then Marika came back and there was more hot cello action, and a rousing finale in which the tour manager was co-opted to play the drums, then an encore of Harbour.
Then she stayed behind at the end to flog her CDs and I lined up, bought everything they had because it was all way cheaper than the Amazon listed prices, got one signed, and made a tit of myself by trying to talk to her. In that order.
(I made the poor woman take the cellophane off her own CD because I was too stupid to realise it had cellophane around it)
I hope nestra was far enough away from me that she avoided being contaminated by the industrial strength uncool of me. But I got my Warm StrangersCD signed and only managed to make two stupid comments about the weather, so I count it a triumph.
When I got home I found that the third CD was the cellist's work with a group called Charming Hostess and it turned out to be Jewish folk songs and poetry from the Balkans set to music and other wonderful things.
* * *
3) For angstville, se_parsons and anyone else who likes the Scissor Sisters, the best mash-up I've heard since Freak Like Me. It's like sunshine in MP3 form and is generally marvellous
No One Takes Your Freedom, comprising
Take Your Mama Out, Scissor Sisters
For No One, The Beatles
Freedom 90, George Michael
Think, Aretha Franklin
Made by DJ Earworm, found via audiography
Also Sexual High. Radiohead's High and Dry and Marvin Gaye's Sexual Healing
* * *
4) The BBC broadcast Jerry Springer -- The Opera at the weekend.
I love that show, mostly because it's a proper opera, it's very clever, it likes swearing like a giggling 10-year-old who's just looked up fellatio and frig in the big dictionary and anything which mocks KKK members by putting them in tap shoes and a kickline is okay by me.
I understand why Christians would be very offended by it and why people who don't like swearing would be at a loss as to its appeal. Even I think it goes way too far in the second half.
However, the absurdly shouty campaign against it only ensured that thousands and thousands more people saw it than would have done if they had just said "we hate this and this is why". Can't we all agree that there is an "off" button and if people hate something they should just switch off?
Instead they are all "it's on the BBC and our TAXES are paying for this filth!!!11!!"
Well, true, but my taxes have been paying for Songs of Praise since I was 16 and you don't get me phoning Aled Jones and threatening to set fire to his stupid fluffy jumpers, do you?
Also, where do they think the National Theatre, whose production Jerry Springer -- The Opera is, gets its funding from? Father Christmas?
Taxes. Jerry Springer's filth is paying for your precious Shakespeare and introducing hordes of ignorant twentysomethings to the glory of opera rather than Oprah. You should be glad.
Now a bunch of idiots have threatened the lives of the controller of BBC2 and other executives and they have police guards on their property. I suppose this at least guarantees that someone takes the protesters "seriously".
The second stage of the whining goes like this: "You wouldn't put this on if it were about *Muslims* because you'd be too scared"
And this is a good thing? Are we going to turn "Who's Got The Scariest Mad Fundie Bastards" into some kind of competition now? Because evil Islamist extremists may be the form team right now, but Christian extremists have a serious winning streak behind them.
This is the second religion-based war over censorship this month: earlier it was the play Behzti, which was cancelled after Sikh protesters rioted at the theatre in Birmingham, drving its author into hiding. There's an interesting comment piece on the issue here. The play's author speaks out here
This is why the proposed new offence of inciting religious hatred is so insidious. It delivers power to well-organised religious pressure groups and tips the balance away from freedom of expression.
There is a problem of Islamophobia in Britain but this is not the way to tackle it. The BNP can be hamstrung under existing laws.