Nothing boils my piss faster than a slow walker. You know the kind. They’re everywhere. Clogging up our escalators, trudging down streets, taking their own sweet time – as time stops for those trying to get past.

In 2000 a group of businessmen – henceforth known as My Gods – suggested Operation Tug Boat: a pedestrian fast lane to get people moving faster on Oxford Street.

The minimum speed in these lanes would be three miles an hour and would be free of those knobheads who slow down to spark up a fag, chug back a bevvie or who can’t walk or talk at the same time.

Pushchairs and dogs would also be banned. Throw in grannies and toddlers and you’ve got utopia.

Of course nothing has come of My Gods proposal, and everyday 50 per cent of Londoners experience “pavement rage”, according to the British Association of Anger Management. In one such fit in May 2007, John Laidlaw shot Abu Kamara in the neck after a bag brushed against his friend.

But still gaggles of girls shriek in agony as they break in their new Louboutins, stopping and starting like Braxton Hix

Still, tourists weighed down in camcorders, camera phones and maps the size of cities clutter streets as they marvel at the sights, while failing to observe local customs. In Japan you take off your shoes, in Dubai you don’t drink. In London: YOU GET OUT OF THE BLOODY WAY!

Is it any wonder that the inventor of the escalator commited suicide?

It was supposed to get people from A to B faster. Instead it’s become a halting sight for the lazy and obtuse. Were he alive to day I’m sure he’d point the gun in the other direction and blow some life into those stagnant sons of bitches.

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While sitting through yet another standing ovation at the theatre the other week I got to think about how sycophantic we theatre-goers are.

We queue up, get our tickets, sit in the dark, and no matter what occurs between curtain up and curtain down, we rise and applaud at the end.

Where’s the excitement? Where’s the danger? Where’s the exit!

I want the theatre experiences of my youth back. Boos, hisses and roars of “he’s behind you” were all common place in panto.

But as we gain our adult stripes we put up a wall between us and the performance. We are pressurised to stay quiet as these gods of the stage guide us through the sacred text.

Me Bollocks.

Arm your audience members with a head of cabbage and a bag of rotten tomatoes and actors might think twice about phoning in their performance. Celebrities in search of kudos would stay well clear of the stage if they knew it was them – and not the tickets – the audience tore up if they failed to deliver.

Sport and opera fans have never shied away from expressing their displeasure. In Australia, one heckler, Yabba, was so revered they named a stand after him at the Sydney Cricket Ground. While in Italy the claques who venomously applaud or appraise performers they love or loathe, have stopped the fat lady singing on more than one occasion.

Actors need a kick up the arse, not a pat on the back, to get their creative juices going. Without the fear of a tumbleweed replacing the thunderous reception what’s to motivate them… Other than a piss poor paycheck?

Of course this wouldn’t work for all forms of theatre. There’s more scope for it in the Globe than the Apollo.

And there’s always some twat who’ll unpack his baggage on the actors, whether they deserve it or not.

But if actors were held to account for their performances by the audience there and then, it might improve the quality of the performance.

Or at least the evening.

Caomhan Hates on Summer

January 31, 2010

I firkin hate the summer.

The holy troika of sun, sweat and sores ensure it’s a miserable time indeed for those with delicate lilly white skin.

We spend the entire time anticipating her arrival and the moment there is but a gap in the clouds, out come the corn beef thighs and Bermuda shorts, with acres of pimply skin on display for all to endure.

Then the sun actually shows up and we start to sweat like the pigs who know they’re dinner.

Struggling to remain upright and impersonal on public transport, we drip like condensation and fan our selves with crumpled up free sheets. Sliding up and down the pole like Sharon Curley, eventually we collapse on top of one another, bitching bitterly about this accursed weather and dreaming of cooler climes.

All fashion taste goes out the window as we desperately try to naturally attain what fake and bake has been doing less than adequately all year. Tight t-shirts and short shorts on a well toned 18-year-old maybe delightfully indecent but on a middle aged munter it is ungodly.

As the heat swelters, perspiration soaks through the cheap Primark clothing and the city becomes a menopausal wet t-shirt contest, with limp hair, sagging chests and valiant attempts to remain composed as the very foundation of their being melts away.

Overdosing on vitamin D, our skin burns and blisters, then snap, crackles and drops off our body. Sun stricken commuters pass out on tubes, causing untold delays to the more weather wise. While picnics in the park or ‘barbies’ turned out to be nought more than culinary Russian roulette.

We push ourselves to the limit, trying to make every moment of the sunshine count, storing up memories like nuts for the winter. Holidays from hell are grinned and bared, festivals survived and even the crusties emerge from their squats to clog up local parks with their tuneless banter and dreadlocked drivel.

And then there are the bugs. Like winged Shylock’s they have come for my blood and take it with interest. My backside is like Checkpoint Charlie. A tense stand off ensues between my hand and my heiney, a desperate urge to scratch only prevented by the red blotched devastation that would ensue. Cream is applied, prayers unanswered and, while the lambs may be silent, that never ending buzz rings out into the night. Taunting me. Threatening me.

So forgive me if I’m counting the days ’til that burning ball of brightness disappears once more and we are poaked and prodded by the wild whims of winter. Until the freckles fade from my arm, the colour from my cheeks and the sweat induced hump from my back.

Till then I’ll just have to rely on my trusty sumbrella to get me through

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So the great man is dead. But as the dust settles and we contemplate what the loss of Michael Jackson will mean for music, what everyone really wants to know is how long we have to wait before we can crack jokes about it.

Not long at all. Sickipedia, home of the crudest, rudest and most inappropriate jokes on the internet has already crashed, such is the thirst for slags about the King of Pop. Facebook statuses, at first professing shock, have started to mock. As the sun rises on each Jacksonless dawn, mobile phones alight with witty one-liners about the Peter Pan of Pop. And deadmichaeljacksonjokes.com has finally got round to mattering.

The public deals with the death of a celebrity in three stages. At first there’s shock and sadness that another human being has passed on, no matter what the circumstance. Notes are taken of present surroundings, stored up to be unleashed in faux tragic voices when asked: “where were you when…?”

Then there’s the morbid fascination. Eyes are Pritt Sticked to the TV, afraid we’ll miss the money shot of a sobbing spouse, sentimental superstar or bulging body bag. Every new nugget of information is dispersed in whispered tones as if the person beside you hasn’t heard what’s just been said.

Then come the claws and the comments. A visceral fray to be the first with the pun or the put down that, despite the wails of “too soon” from titillated colleagues, opens the flood gates and drowns common decency in a sea of sarcastic shit-stirring.

They say laughter is the best medicine, and I’m usually the first with my arse out for a shot. But there’s something about the death of Wacko that catches in my throat. Is it that it’s the first truly iconic legend that’s died in my lifetime? (If you mention Diana in the same breath I’ll smash my novelty memorial plate over your head). Or could it be that it was all so horribly inevitable?

Perhaps it’s just that now the king is dead, there’s no sign of a new one to carry on the legacy. With Jackson gone and Prince in serious need of surgery, it seems our generation has spent so much time looking over their shoulder that there is no one to fill the shoes of those gone by.

The most innovative work Justin Timberlake’s done is sticking his dick in a box. And the only remarkable thing about him and other contenders for the throne, is the sheer commonality of their personas. You just can’t imagine them sleeping in oxygen tanks, dicking Brooke Shields and shaving a monkey’s arse.

I guess that’s the problem with the youth of today.

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The human race is up shit creek… and it would appear they are in no need of a paddle. Chuck them a camera instead and watch them get knee deep in the dirt… providing there’s an offer of celebrity at the end.

Ever since Endemol, the gang behind Big Brother, removed the prerequisite of talent from becoming a celebrity, the common man (and I do mean common) has aimed for the stars and lined the gutter with his execrable attempts of surviving the initial 15 minutes.

From the inbred bleating of domesticated trailer trash on Wife Swap to the permatanned piss ants from Laguna Beach, where reality television once got you a peak behind closed doors, now its blown those doors away and put the windows in for good measure. There isn’t a rock unturned and dissected in excruciating detail as we surf the channels between TV dinners, in search of our next reality high.

From the classroom to the clinic, celebrities have sprouted from every profession to dispense their pearls of wisdom. They invade our homes (Kim & Aggie), deride our wardrobe (Trinny and Susannah) and tell us how to look good naked (Gok Wan).

We have television stations (E!), television shows (Entertainment Tonight, Expose) and television personalities (Davina McCall, Dermot O Leary, Fearne Cotton) all catering to our voyeuristic thirst. We have web sites (TMZ.com, Perezhilton.com), magazines (Heat, Grazzia, US) and gossip columns (Bizarre, Page Six, 3AM). But there is no smoke without fire, and no fire without coal and so we mine the very scrapings of the barrel to keep the pages turning, the channels flicking and the columns loaded.

We are caught in the vicious circle of real life… and it’s starting to spin out of control.

Rather than locking up crack-addled loons like Bobby and Whitney, we invite ourselves into their homes via VH1. Instead of letting them dry out in peace, we are there every 12 steps of the way at VH1 Celebrity Rehab.

Last year, the Dutch (who else?), held a contest where a terminally ill patient chose which one of the lucky contestants on a transplant list won the grand prize: her kidneys.

The show turned out to be a hoax, but the three contestants – though involved in the deception – were all on dialysis.

Where to next? Have we descended the final rung of the reality ladder? Or are there more steps to go? Beauty and the Bestiality? Carry on Camping…in Auschwitz? What will be the straw that breaks this brainless colossus’s back and send us scarpering into the loving embrace of intelligent programming?

Or in my case, Star Trek.

Overprotective Parents

January 31, 2010

Heinz has got British parents all a flutter with their latest television advert, which has just been pulled from our screens.

Featuring a man with a New York accent, dressed like a deli chef, making sandwiches in a homely kitchen. He is supposed to represent the modern mother, who with the help of Heinz Deli Mayo, can make even the moldiest cheese sandwich taste like a New York sub.

Not that this Stone Age vision of family life is what has gotten the paternal knickers in a twist. It’s the fact that, as the ads end, just as the haggard father rushes off to work, “mom” pulls him back for a quick peck on the lips before he goes out to chop some wood, or fight bears or do whatever it is we men are supposed to do to earn a living.

Parents told the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the ad was inappropriate and unsuitable for children. In these knife happy days, the fact that two men trading spit in a post watershed advertisement gets parents in a tizzy bothers me.

These are undoubtedly the same parents who considered the Newsround coverage of Mark Speight’s death “sick and appalling”. Despite the fact the show never made any mention of his suicide or his drug use, some parents saw fit to complain about the show reporting the story at all. Perhaps they would have been happier if Newsround had just announced that Speight had left cBeebies and gone to live on a farm like several of Blue Peter’s cats and dogs.

Why in this day and age are we still obsessed with protecting our children’s innocence? By wrapping them up in cotton wool all we do is breed another generation as ignorant, small minded and backward as the last. While I believe children are growing up too fast, shielding them from the realities of the day is not the answer.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. A BBC spokesman has said that hundreds of children have gotten in touch to express their sympathy at Speight’s passing and say how important and influential he was to them.

Perhaps if parents were to treat their children as the mature children Newsround see them to be the UK would finish a little higher than last in a UNICEF league of European countries for child well-being.

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What a delightfully intolerant society we still live in.

As Sheila Edwards,61, wept at her husband’s sick bed this week she had to contend with the broadsheets, free sheets and general shits commenting on her actions as a mother and a wife.

John Edwards’,57, life, which was put in jeopardy after he was hit and run over by a drunk driver, could be saved by a blood transfusion. His sons want it. The doctors want it. The British public, if their red top voice is to be believed, want it. The only problem is, Sheila doesn’t.

Out of respect for her husbands beliefs Sheila has refused to allow the procedure. As a devout Jehovah’s Witness she says it would be like an assault on her husband and that he would not want to live knowing he has disobeyed god.

Enter, stage left, hysteria. Headlines about the woman who is “refusing” to save her husband, forcing her two sons to watch him die. Those who have turned their back on their faith are dragged out, like some kind of authority, to speak about the regret they feel at having made the same decision.

We are reminded of poor Emma Gough, 22, who died in childbirth after rejecting a transfusion when she had suffered internal bleeding following the birth of her twins.

We never pause to consider what it would do to this man were we to ignore his wishes. Yes we’ll have saved his life, but in his eyes we will have condemned his soul. Is it not odd that in spite of not having the strength of his convictions we feel like we can deride his relationship with God? Just because we can’t live by the doctrines of our given church does not give us the right to mock or act shocked at those who can.

Take the Scientologists, who believe that 75m years ago an evil galactic warlord rounded up 13.5 trillion beings and dumped them on volcanoes on Earth, then vaporised them with nuclear bombs. Then their radioactive souls, or thetans, attached themselves to humans and are at the root of our personal and global problems today.

Heck if I know what that’s all about. But as it’s not my faith I don’t have to . I just need to respect that someone else does. Because as a Catholic I’m supposed to believe some pretty funky stuff myself. And if you want to get down to it, did Henry the VIII, in founding the Church of England not just pick and mix whatever least affected his personal life?

It’s called faith for a reason. You either have it or you don’t. But if by getting up and leading my life by a certain set of principles helps me be a good person, then others should respect my faith and my beliefs rather than questioning them.