Waves of incompetency

Waves and waves of incompetence seem to be washing over us. Let’s be honest though. Despite our wails of treachery, most of the incompetence disseminated by others is being done on the same scale by most normal people. So the Home Secretary’s husband bought porn and claimed it on expenses? If you haven’t been caught doing something inappropriately with porn, you either haven’t discovered the internet or are a complete prude.

Andy Coulson is perhaps responsible for the illegal phone tapping of minor celebrities, just to get a whiff of a story at the News of the World. And? We’ve all overheard conversations we shouldn’t have, yet carried on listening. We are curious creatures.

You see how easy it is? This is what the people involved with these separate stories have said. It’s certainly not my opinion, as I’m not a hypocritical berk.

Kelvin McKenzie, former editor of The Sun, appeared on Sky News to laugh off the allegation made by The Guardian about illegal phone-tapping at the News of the World, and its alleged widespread use within the media outlet.

He even said that The Guardian’s Labour-leaning readers and writers were not just motivated by uncovering truth, but also politics. Yes, the man who is at the centre of the allegations (the afore-mentioned Andy Coulson) does now work as David Cameron’s media aide, but that doesn’t stop it being a story. In fact, Cameron’s rebuttal of the allegations and stand beside Coulson has turned this into a significant story, as the next Prime Minister’s top PR man could be guilty of phone hacking.

Indeed, one suspects that McKenzie’s reasoning isn’t especially pure either, as he is an outside bet for promotion within Rupert Murdoch’s company, News International, who are looking for someone to edit The Sun. Was he just trying to impress his boss?

But more incompetency is being uncovered daily, outside and within government, as well as outside and within the media. Every time incompetence is ousted, those responsible make feeble, pathetic excuses, which they think exudes them of blame.

The Learning Skills Council, responsible for college funding in England and Wales, has tragically over-budgeted, which means they have had to scrap payments to college and university building projects which they had already agreed upon. The Financial Services Authority is under fire for being more useless than an open-ended bucket in dealing with the financial quagmire we find ourselves in.

Fire-fighters and local council builders are in trouble following a fire in a London high-rise building which killed six people. Parents are being blamed for raising illiterate thickos who stab people to death because they are bored. Teachers are lampooned for poor quality tutoring and if the government gets their way, will be forced to have MOTs every five years, like clapped out Nissan Micras.

The government has been giving conflicting advice about swine flu, one minute telling the nation not to panic, the next talking of 65,000 deaths. The Metropolitan Police are still facing on-going investigations into their policing at the G20 summit and are being taken to court over their “kettling” procedure, whereby innocent people are kept for hours in a confined space, leaving one at a time. The Equality and Human Rights Commission is under fire for poor leadership and being as effective at tackling disability discrimination as pointing at wheelchair-users and giggling.

You may think of these examples as one-offs, something that won’t or shouldn’t be repeated. But look closely at the groups under fire: the government, police, teachers, fire-fighters, local councils, the media, parents, NHS and regulatory bodies. Basically, everyone is just really shit and it’s taking us a bit of time to work that out.

Where should our trust lie? Well, the only people not being pilloried are the general public. The decent men and women who work for these unscrupulous firms and government departments. They work nine-til-five, receive their pay cheque and then lose 1/3 to the hapless government in taxes (who pay for the hapless police, poor teachers, inadequate NHS advice etc.), then spend money on clothes (made in appalling conditions by children in the East), transport (the East Coast Mainline was handed back to the government after the company running the line couldn’t make a profit), sport (in which the FA are failing to curb the debt mountains accrued by many big clubs) and entertainment.

In other words, to be ethical with your money, just have a load of fun and give all your money to paintballing companies, zoos and pubs.


Michael Jackson dies

King of Pop. Dance genius. Wacko Jacko. Don’t leave him with your kids. All things said about Michael Jackson this week, in light of the death of the world’s most famous music star. He’s only been dead a week, yet the alarmingly hysterical media coverage and the music channels insisting they play his videos on loop, have made it seem much longer.

Has anyone noticed the similarities between most of his videos? They seem to feature ethnic people from different cultures, wearing ceremonial gear, while Jackson himself dances and Moonwalks through a routine that leaves his audience mesmerised. Honestly, watch them, they’re all the same. Except Thriller of course, which is a shame because he looked in much ruder health in that video than he has done for a good few years.

Anyway, he’s dead, gone from this world in a daze of pain-killers and unsuitable drugs that would make Keith Richards’ bathroom cabinet jealous. That is unless you believe the conspiracy theories being bandied around the internet and given occasional credence from respectable news sources, all of which seem to have been recycled from previous famous deaths. Is he really dead? Did Prince Charles secretly order his demise? Which members of the Kremlin poisoned him? Was he eating a cheeseburger on the toilet when he popped his clogs?

Glastonbury 2009 was in full swing when the news broke of Jackson’s downfall and it led to numerous tributes to the man, including a Dizzee Rascal medley and Gabriella Cilmi mentioning him during her set (this was described as a “top story” by the BBC, even though I’ve never heard of her).

Entrepreneurial types, clearly forsaking the peaceful worship, cashed in on the extravaganza, printing t-shirts which said “I was at Glasto when Jacko died”. At £20 and made with acid green letters, it wasn’t great value for money, but it did offer an opportunity to keep a memento of the occasion and an easy response to the question; where were you when Jacko died?

Even better is some of the top-notch gallows humour on display. Some witty chaps have printed shirts with just two words on them: “Jackson 4”. Now if that doesn’t win Paris Fashion Week awards, then nothing should.

It’s too early for jokes to be doing the rounds, but this one from the perennially offensive Frankie Boyle takes some beating. He said of Saddam Hussein, “Apparently he was asked if he had any last requests. ‘Can I have Michael Jackson’s lawyer’ he said”.

Q magazine are set to unintentionally earn the prize for ‘greatest post-print disaster’ of the year. Their front cover pictured Jackson, accompanied by the caption “Michael Jackson unmasked”. Was it a glorious tribute to the man and his impact on music or a posthumous appraisal of his work? No. It was to celebrate his “upcoming” dates in London, and assess the “greatest comeback in history”. Even more hideously, there is a feature on famous rock star deaths in the very same issue, with a doctor giving their analysis on what killed each of them. Ouch.

On their website, Q’s editor apologised for the problems. The magazine has to go to print one week before the magazine is in the shops, which explains the whole affair. Editor Paul Rees wasn’t wrong in the introduction of the erroneous original edition when he stated Jackson’s life was a “rollercoaster” and “anything can happen”. But it’s not the end of the world as it should affect their sales positively. People will snap it up thinking it’s a tribute, when it couldn’t be more from the truth, merely a preview of his “forthcoming” 50-date residency at the O2 Arena. His problems in later life, well-documented, will always cast a shadow over the adorations of the public, as there will always be a “did he, didn’t he?” question that will almost certainly remain unanswered.

Some press reports suggested The Jackson 5 were planning a reunion before his death, presumably because Michael’s lesser-known siblings hadn’t been offered a place on Celebrity Big Brother this year.

Besides, my Mum never believed it was the real Michael Jackson anyway, just a double from 2003 onwards. She points to his deepening voice as incontrovertible proof. Did I just start a rumour? Pass it on. It’ll be on Sky News within the hour.