’Allo ’allo, what’s all this: big­ots, text-walk­ers, lit­ter louts. Where’s Dolly Par­ton when you need her?

Sunday Herald - - 29.10.17 - By Mark Smith

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

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