’Allo ’allo, what’s all this: bigots, text-walkers, litter louts. Where’s Dolly Parton when you need her?
Taking the PI ... F
IRST, the bad news. I caught a few moments of the revival of Dynasty on Netflix last week, but I also have to tell you that another terrible 1980s show, Magnum, PI, is also getting a reboot. You may remember it: the series was about a private detective played by Tom Selleck and it was the apogee of the testosterone 1980s, the kind of sexist, shallow, hairy-chested show that wore the top three buttons on its shirt undone and would try to undo your buttons too given half the chance. Yet the programme is coming back, because that’s just what America needs, isn’t it? Another arrogant man fond of guns, cars, overt sexism, and made-up stories posing as fact.
So I wondered if, instead of Magnum, PI, I might suggest some other programmes that should come back – shows that deserve to return from the past because they might actually have something to say about the present.
Like the following: ‘Allo ‘Allo – sitcom featuring British people mocking the Europeans. Germans! Ha ha. The French! Ha ha. Why revive the show? Because it might remind people that it’s the Germans and French who got the last laugh. Brexit! Ha ha.
Or the BBC show A Very Peculiar Practice in which a young doctor joins the staff of a university and witnesses the clash of modernism and conservatism. Modernism is represented by Dr Rose Marie (“What we call illness is something that men do to women”) and conservatism by Dr Bob Buzzard (“what she needs is a good rogering”). Why a new series? Because the clash is still happening between the no-platformers (“I don’t agree with you, so shut up!”) and the free-speechers (“everyone has a right to be racist!”)
Then there’s V – the sci-fi mini-series aliens with a taste for human flesh who arrive on our planet and promise the Earth. At first, everyone dismisses them as weirdos but they promise a bright new future and eventually they’re running the show. Why revive it? Because it’s happened: the aliens are running the show right now, from a big white building in Washington.
Finally, Yes Minister – comedy about an incompetent, blundering government minister trying to implement a stupid policy and convince us that everything is just fine. Nuff said.
No texts please ... N
EAR-MISS on the street the other day with a new species of pedestrian: the text-walker – a human so engrossed in their phone while walking that they nearly crash into things. There I was, walking in the traditional way, using legs for propulsion and eyes to see where I’m going, and there they were, using legs for propulsion but using eyes to check their mobile. And we were heading for each other.
In the end, collision was averted but increasingly this kind of incident is a real problem out on the street. In the US, pedestrian deaths rose by nine per cent last year and one theory is it’s because of people getting distracted by their phones.
Perhaps we should accept it as an example of evolution: eventually, only people who aren’t stupid enough to text while they walk will survive to have children and so the human race will evolve.
But some places are trying to find a solution. In Honolulu, Hawaii, penalties are being issued to anyone caught crossing the road while looking at their phone. But I suggest a technological solution instead: a law requiring that all new mobile phones only work while stationary. It would solve the problem of text-walkers; it would also sort the problem of people who text while driving. Good idea, IMHO.
A red litter day I
WAS out in Shettleston recently meeting Tory councillor Thomas Kerr and, as we walked down Shettleston Road, he told me his moving life story. Kerr, who is 21 years old, grew up in a council flat and was a carer for his mother from the age of six because of her addiction to heroin. Some of his friends also took drugs and by his own admission, his life could have gone in the wrong direction, and yet here he is serving his community as a councillor. It is an inspiring achievement from an impressive young man. Except that, as Kerr and I were walking down the road, we got a glimpse of the challenge he faces when a pupil from the local school chucked the top off his takeaway container on to the pavement. Kerr said he sees this kind of thing all the time: people who think that because you live in the east end, you don’t need to care about what it looks like or what you do to it, and so the problem selfperpetuates: there is litter, people see a dirty environment, therefore they are more likely to drop litter.
Much of the problem, as far as Kerr sees it, starts with the attitude of school pupils, but the solution could start there too. Why not have litter as part of the curriculum? Every class would have to spend some time every week picking up rubbish in the streets around their school. It would make the streets cleaner, but it might also wipe clean people’s bad attitudes too.
Dolly good idea I
’VE been reading The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe to the godchildren, but here’s a better idea: why don’t I get Dolly Parton to read it to them for me? The country and western star read a story on CBeebies last week and I can think of no better role model for teeny humans. Parton runs her own programme promoting reading to young children, but she also has some pretty useful messages for children: don’t be pretentious, don’t be boastful, sing your heart out, and be careful with money. And then there’s Dolly Parton’s most important lesson of all: if you work hard, one day you too could have a theme park dedicated to you.
Out damned bigotry O
UT for my regular run on Tuesday with Glasgow FrontRunners – a group that has strong links to the LGBT community and has done wonders for many members’ sense of identity as well as fitness.
So it was disappointing to see some negative reaction to a recent article online. It is easy to think homophobia is over when the atmosphere has improved for many gay people, but it’s still there, and in some places – football, for example – it’s still strong. Last week, the former managing director of Leeds United, David Haigh, said he knew of more than 20 gay football players who were too scared to come out.
I am not surprised. A few years ago, I spent months trying to convince a friend who was a Scottish premier league player, to speak about his experiences as a gay man. It almost happened, but in the end he was worried about his career and I don’t blame him. The first gay footballer to come out will almost certainly have to deal with abuse, but there will also be an upside: every progressive company and brand in the land will be falling over themselves to sponsor the player and be associated with someone who would undoubtedly become a heroic and iconic figure.
Best of British: ’Allo ’Allo