Sunday, 23 August 2015

"Day 106..."

Celebrity Big Brother is about to start on Channel 5, and the ads for it have made me suddenly realize what it is the Labour Party leadership elections are reminding me of.
They’re housemates.

Liz Kendall is the one whose VT makes you want to hate her. The things she says have you so riled up that you’re ready to pick apart every word she says. But as it turns out, she’s not in the edit much, and when she does show up she seems more likeable than you expected. You still don’t warm to her, but you grudgingly accept she’s probably not as bad as you thought.

Jeremy Corbyn is the one who is nominated by the other housemates every week. They notice that the public keeps voting for him, but can’t process why. Every eviction night they expect him to go then wonder why he hasn’t. His popularity makes them angry with the public but they have to stop themselves saying so. Occasionally he'll say something that makes you think 'wait, what?' which will be used as the basis of a whole episode if nothing much else happened that day.

Andy Burnham is the one who sees himself as the alpha male of the house. He’ll say what seems reasonable to whoever is in front of him, and will bank on people not noticing the inconsistency. His schtick is the 'hey, I'm just a normal guy' thing, but he gets worryingly furious if someone implies he isn't best human. The Andy Burnham housemate in your average series of BB gets to the final, but comes sixth.

Yvette Cooper is the one who relies on keeping quiet and hoping the other housemates are unpopular enough for her to sneak a win. She’s the one who stands up for herself over an argument about washing up in week 7, then constantly refers back to that conversation when people accuse her of fence-sitting. She’s never up for eviction, and leaves the house to neither boos nor cheers. 

Who wins? You decide. Unless you’ve ever tweeted something positive about the Greens.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

2015 BC

It seems oddly appropriate that the Black Cap is to become a branch of the Breakfast Club. To take somewhere which has been badly-behaved for fifty years, while at the same time providing a haven for society's rejected, and to turn it into somewhere where you can get French Toast for nine quid on the way to work strikes me as a perfect symbol for what is happening to London. 

I've nothing against the Breakfast Club, in particular- I've had some nice food in various of their branches. Actually, I do have one thing in particular against them, which is the disingenuous, poor-little-us-are-we-the-baddies? narrative they're trying to pass off onto us, but that's just a symptom of something larger, and tidier, and more cosily antiseptic.

One day everything will be rag-rubbed, and we will all sit on upcycled pine, and read menus that pretend to be your friend and chalkboards with quirky little aphorisms on them, and nobody will remember that London used to be a place where the genteel could be genteel if they wanted, but where there was also space to be dirty or edgy or dangerous or unconventional or- in the most inclusive sense of the word- just a bit queer. Where you could go to places whose primary function wasn't just to chummily relieve you of as much cash as possible.

And we'll sit there, and wonder what happened to the chaotic, exciting city we used to live in where not everyone was a millionaire, and how everything got so boring and so identically soulless, and how they managed to make that dinky little sprig of parsley sit so perfectly on top of our goat's curd and chorizo scrambled egg.