Anarchy in the UK

I was rather too young (one, in fact) to remember the Sex Pistols singing Anarchy in the UK, and even if I could remember it, I ‘m pretty sure that I was a placid baby and therefore wouldn’t have been stirred to acts of wonton destruction in the name of Anarchy. Even now, the song strikes me as very School band-ish, and the most subversive and daring thing about it is the attempt to rhyme Antichrist with anarchist (or anarch-iste, as John Lydon strains to put it). The fact that he’s lately been seen advertising butter, and appearing on itv flagship reality TV goes to show that it’s tricky to remain an anarch-iste all your life, and maybe we’ve all got to grow up sooner or later.

Incidentally, an anarchist is defined as follows:

a person who advocates the abolition of government and a social system based on voluntary cooperation

The reason I’ve waffled on about this is as a result of the riots in Piccadilly at the weekend. This was nominally a protest march about government cuts, though it seems to have been split into two parts, with the Milliband-approved quiet protest (and if there’s ever a voice more soporific to calm a protest, I’d like to hear it) and the subsequent more radical anarchistic protest.

Let’s look at them in a little more detail:

Protest 1: peaceful, clear purpose, organised, involved people exercising their democratic right.

Protest 2: violent, not quite sure what the point was, chaotic, criminal damage, fighting with police.

The first protest involved people intent on making their feelings known to the coalition government. There’s a certain amount of courage required for this, and a desire to stand up for one’s beliefs. These people wanted to be seen, they were happy to show their faces and for their point to be made, forcibly and fairly.

The second protest involved people intent on smashing things up. This involved smashing banks, and taking over the roof of Fortnum and Mason. This second act was particularly bizarre, bearing in mind that you only have to walk through the front door and there’s pretty much a free lunch to be had at their food hall, given the number of tasty morsels on display. What’s on the roof to eat? Bird shit? How very anarchistic.

The fact that these people refused to show their faces meant that they were clearly intent on criminal activity from the outset. Just what point is being made by throwing paint at the police? What point is being made by smashing the window of a bank? Surely the point is that you like smashing things, hence you are anti-social, poorly brought up and with worrying issues of anger. You are also of course a massive coward, since you would presumably not do this sort of thing without the cover of a large mob behind you. It really is amazing how some of the meekest people develop a brave/stupid/violent mentality with the protection of a crowd. The daubing of the anarchist symbol was surely more about the fact that it looks quite cool than any actual political statement. It’s hard to see how a ‘social system based on voluntary co-operation’ can be achieved by sticking a table leg through the front window of Millett’s.

Part of the problem with protesting is that it seems to be becoming a social day out, and less about the reason behind the protest than the sheer joy of protesting itself. I remeber being invited to protest in Hyde park for the first Iraq war, and was told to come along because it would be fun, and ‘after all, it’s such a nice day for a walk’. A walk!? So that’s how we get more people to protest. Make sure it’s a sunny day, thrown in a park and a stroll past a cheeky deli, and you’ll have the great and the good of Hampstead screaming for the abolition of speed humps in no time.

Perhaps I’m becoming old and miserable, and maybe I’ve always been somewhat institutionalised (public School, university, public School isn’t the greatest sight of the real world), but it does seem as though there’s none more misguided than the anarchistes these days. Bob Dylan would be turning in his grave (have you not seen my dead pool, Bob?)

Dead Pool 2011

We’re almost a couple of months into the new year, and the dust has well settled on my New Year’s eve trivial pursuit and bollinger-sponsored ushering in of 2011. A new year gives one the chance to take stock, to re-appraise, to set one’s priorities for the year ahead. These are very personal, specific, but above all, dull tasks to report, and hence it’s my dead pool that you really want to hear about, don’t you?

For the uninitiated, this is a marvellous parlour game for all the family. It’s not exactly fast-paced, bearing in mind that you’ll have to wait 365 days to find out who’s won. But it’s free, and you really do get out what you put in. Those who approach the game with a casual air of picking names out of a hat will rarely succeed, but those who spend hours engaged in careful research will find themselves richly rewarded.

So here’s how you play. Decide how many names you’re going to pick (everyone picks the same, and I’d suggest 8 for starters). This is the number of celebrities you are going to have to gamble that will die in the next year. You can pick them by order, and then you receive 8 points (on a sliding scale down to 1 point) for your number one choice. There’s no rules that apply re: celebrity ages and health conditions, but you should be aware that though no points are awarded for flair picks, the sense of satisfaction one gains when a real gamble pays off can’t be underestimated (think of the 15 year old Schoolboy Ben who picked out Freddie Mercury back in 1991, or those more up to date gamblers who went for Brittney Murphy a couple of years back).

I’ve posted my choices on twitter already, but this is my final selection. In case you feel that I’ve boobed by missing out a couple of obvious ones, I’ve refused to pick the following people:

Zsa Zsa Gabor: as much of a gimme as you can get; in fact, I’m not sure that she hasn’t croaked already. She seems to be losing limbs at a rate of knots, and she’ll have turned into some kind of OAP version of ‘boxing Helena’ well before the year is out. She’s the dead pool equivalent of the 1 yard open-goal tap in, and hence is not one to be celebrated.

Fidel Castro, Nelson Mandela, Kim Jong-Il: they may well all already be dead. Even if they are, or if they pop off during 2011, we’ll never know about it, and as they get lowered into the ground, we’ll still be assured that it’s nothing more than a cold, and that it’s a mere percautionary measure.

The list:

1. Bruce Forsyth: rapidly becoming a liability, even on saturday night snooze-fest strictly, and makes Paddy McGuinness look like a master of the auto-cue. Undoubtedly a trooper, but looks to be on borrowed time.

2. Kerry Katona: the ‘I’ve got my life back on track’ mantra isn’t fooling me. You’re still doing ads for Iceland, and you’re only one batch of dodgy showbiz sherbert away from me being quids in.

3. Bob Dylan: this is more about gut-instinct. Health scares, limited output for the last few years and he must be getting on more than a bit. Still sings like he’s listening to one of his own songs on an ipod, but that’s not a reason to put him on the list on its own.

4. Gregg Wallace: sad to report this one, as no-one licks chocolate mousse from a spoon quite like Gregg. Have you seen him lately on Masterchef though? He looks like a barrow-boy who’s eaten all his produce, and the barrow too. He’s gaining weight in a hurry, and looks to be out like Atkins.

5. Terry Christian: can’t believe he’s still in work, but he also looks like a skeleton these days. Reminds me of the chap from the Stereo MCs.

6. Daphne Fowler: you know, the old one (oldest one?) from eggheads. Bit of a cheap pick, but can’t see her getting through the winter.

7. Margaret Thatcher: she almost made it into my Castro etc list, though I suspect there’ll be a few street parties when she heads up to the great trade union in the sky. Shame to see her go, but when you’re too ill to have a cup of horlicks at your own party, the next 12 months look a very long way away.

8. James Corden: I’m not sure that being fat and a shamelessly un-funny England footballer suck-up qualifies our James to be a victim of the grim reaper at any time in the next 300 days or so, but wouldn’t it be great? Wouldn’t it?

So there you have mine. Who’s in yours?