Griffin brings the giggles

Of all Britain’s political parties, the BNP bring the giggles, no doubt about that. I’m not suggesting that race hate is a laughing matter, merely pointing out that over the past two years or so, they have entertained me a great deal.

I attend an extremely liberal university. I am surrounded by the trappings of liberalism and laissez-faire education, so it is very easy to fall into the trap of thinking everyone is in perfect agreement: racism is bad, sexism is bad, Tories are (almost) worse. This is not the case across the nation. NUS (motto: student power, what a shower) elections do not reflect the wide range of ideological battlegrounds that occur in general elections. There is no candidate for the NUS Treasurer who advocates the ‘stringing up’ of perverts as it’s ‘the only language they understand’. Not once have I seen a potential student representative call for the university’s international students to be sent packing back to their homeland. Yet in many parliamentary seats, there are candidates that advocate such policies.

They interest me so much I’m writing my dissertation about them. For those not in the know, a dissertation is a massive essay about a subject of your choosing and is usually the point in higher education when each student thinks “This shit just got real”. It causes third years to spend night after night in the library, drinking enough Red Bull to fly to the moon and back. I have seen the effect it has had on others. For a few weeks, they are bleary-eyed, tetchy, jumpy and irritable. It’s like living in a house full of stroppy teenagers who have had their Wi-Fi disconnected.

The question I ask is: has the BNP become more mainstream since being elected to the European Parliament in 2009? Has being invited on to panel shows like Question Time, hence giving them a slither of reputability, meant that they have diluted some of their extreme views? Or have they used the platform to bolster their campaigns?

When Nick Griffin was invited on to David Dimbleby’s weekly political roasting, I was disappointed by the reaction to the invite. Protesters marched to BBC Television Centre, demanding he forfeits his place. But as I pointed out to anyone who would listen, the first pillar of fascism is not giving everyone a voice. I’m sad to say that Griffin is a democratically elected politician so he has every right to appear on such shows. Besides, when you are as pathetic as Mr. Griffin, it smacks of suicide. Give ‘em enough rope.

I am studying interviews with the leader from the past decade. Has his language become more conciliatory or inflammatory? He is asked in one interview about his views on the Holocaust, having been a ‘denier’ in the 90s. He says he no longer argues with the numbers but despises the “industry” that has built up around the Holocaust. I know Nick, I can barely move in my house for Auschwitz key chains.  During ‘BNP Wives’, a documentary on Sky about the role of spouses in the party, one wife said “I hate it when people say I’m a Holocaust denier. I’m not… I dispute the numbers”. Oh that’s alright then. I didn’t realise you were the Carol Vordeman of Holocaust death-counting.

What does become apparent is the media’s role in helping Griffin and his ilk. In one interview he reads verbatim from The Sun about immigrants in Calais waiting to claim benefits in Britain. It’s no wonder people might consider voting for him when the press prints exaggerated stories about asylum seekers claiming the right to live in the annex of Buckingham Palace, demanding three servants and chauffeur on pain of death.

Without doubt my favourite Griffin quote comes when he is discussing energy. “We believe that Britain needs a serious nuclear power plant… if, for that, we need to import a Japanese physicist and his family, obviously we do so”. This rests on the assumption that a Japanese physicist will want to live in the UK when it is run by a party that hates foreigners. It would be as strange as leaving for Russia and writing “I’m here to investigate the death of Alexander Litvinyenko” on your visa application.

He does do a nice line in collective community organisation though, forgetting for one moment that he is on the hard right. He raves about co-operatives like Waitrose which “do a good job”, which is like a committed Marxist saying “everything and everyone should be treated and paid equally, except for that nice boss of Debenhams because they make lovely cotton socks”.

My view? Nick Griffin has tried hard to detoxify the party’s image but we’re dealing with views so potent they are basically radioactive. And what do we do with radioactive waste? Dump it in reinforced bunkers in unpopulated areas. That sounds like a fair solution for all concerned.


Revenge of the grim kebab house

Take-away joints are rarely first class dining experiences but the one we visited in Sheffield on our first night out plumbed new depths of disgust. Fred ordered a kebab of some sort – I couldn’t tell you what because the end product looked like a fried shoe in pitta bread. Witnessing the hapless vendor squeeze a splodge of congealed garlic mayonnaise on top was the last straw. Fred took his kebab with a withering look, stabbing and prodding it like it was his last meal on death row.

When we checked in at our hotel, a charming Eastern European girl was at reception. “I’ve never seen so many good looking boys staying here” she bashfully sighed. “Where are they then?” I asked, peering over shoulders, to muted guffaws. After unpacking and settling in (“We’ve got TWO toilet rolls” Harry said excitably, as if this was the pinnacle of modern living) we found ourselves marooned indoors, due to a downpour which began as we hopped on the M25 and didn’t stop for days. Ordering from the menu, I went for a curry dish which against all odds turned out to be a treat. Everyone else wasn’t so lucky. Paul’s pie was a whole lot of pastry and little else. We whiled away the lengthy wait between our meals arriving by playing “Spot the Filling”, a game I thought I’d won until it was pointed out that the morsel of chicken I dug from beneath the pastry rubble was a rogue pea.

Ashley’s dish was supplemented by a side order of cat sick, which after various sniffs and questioning looks, turned out to be piccalilli. In restaurants it would be classified as an accompaniment, as in “Can you accompany my dish with half a plate of bile”. Hilariously, it appeared that the food was microwaved because our dinners arrived two by two at ten minute intervals, preceded by an almighty PING! from the kitchen. This led to someone telling the poor waiter that microwaves were going cheap in the latest Argos catalogue.

Local news reports carried two items which aroused cocked eyebrows – apparently the very month we were in Sheffield was the wettest on record (cue x-rated jokes about the girls getting wet because we arrived). Then the Yorkshire lass reading the autocue adopted a graver tone. A violent and insane criminal had escaped from an institution just miles away. For dramatic effect, this announcement should have been followed by a rumble of thunder, a flash of lightning and the silhouette of a knife-wielding maniac outside the window.

Judging by the cab drivers we ended up with, there was no shortage of candidates exhibiting what a police spokesperson described “suspicious behaviour”. My favourite was the cabbie who championed the cheap fares in the north and railed against expensive taxis down south, only to charge us nearly twice the average fare.

The other constant in Sheffield was the drinking. Thursday night began well, with treble vodkas setting us back £2.95 in a bar called Players, which was staffed by angelic girls in cheerleader uniforms. On a raised podium a dancing competition was in full swing, headed by a trendy black guy busting his moves and an extremely supple girl, both twisting and writhing to the beat quite brilliantly. I looked sideways and Jamie tried to emulate them, participating in a one-man breakdancing tournament which he still failed to win. He said the following morning that “the floor was too slippery” but when drinks are being thrown about with abandon (especially when vodka was a pound per shot – I could’ve had a Smirnoff Jacuzzi and still bought a yacht with the spare change) a slippery floor is always a risk.

We ended up in Plug, an enormo-dome nightclub with queues at the bar tailing back to the heart of the dancefloor. The queues were so huge you had to put in serious cognitive effort to stay out of one. You’d think it was a third world country and a United Nations aid lorry had just arrived. I was suitably tanked up so I had no reason to visit the bar. I just danced away the night like a prick.

A pair of girls dancing nearby asked if we wanted to go to a house party. That would be where it all kicked off, surely! A houseful of horny young adults, all off their face and looking for holiday romance? I bet there’s an indoor swimming pool, a jukebox playing classic 60s psychedelic music and as much wine as you can drink while standing upright. This sweet image was soon scuppered, however, when the girl opened her mouth once more.

“It won’t be very good. It’s not really a house party, just me and my friend” she unapologetically said. No swimming pool? No ‘Rubber Soul’ on booming speakers? No cavernous wine cellar in the basement?

Oh well, looks like it’s a kebab with garlic mayonnaise for me too.

2012 is not the end

Put the tin hats away, retrieve those water bottles and dried food you packed away in the nuclear bunker and rejoice. The world is definitely not going to end in 2012, contrary to some people (nee idiots) who have spent the last couple of years running around shrieking in a high-pitched voice, trying to convince us that the 21st December 2012 will spark the decay of civilisation as we know it. The reason for such scaremongering was that the Mayan calendar appeared to end this year, which to my ears seems an absurd calculation.

The calendar I bought from Clinton’s, currently hanging limply from my notice board, ends on the second day of 2013, but no-one in their right mind would suggest that humanity will come to a screeching halt on said day and that Clinton’s are the all-seeing soothsayers of the mortal world, even if they do know their way around a Get Well Soon card.

Only fifteen years ago, you couldn’t walk around with a mobile phone in your pocket without wearing a heavy duty belt due to the brick-like properties of our telecommunication devices at the time, yet some conspiracy theorists are taking cues from a bunch of people who lived up a mountain over five millenniums ago. We can’t even deliver flat-pack furniture within the six hour time slot the delivery man said he needed, so what chance have we got of predicting The End with any kind of accuracy?

Deep in the Guatemalan jungle (which sounds like a euphemism, as in ‘Ugandan discussions’) new Mayan inscriptions have been discovered which dispel the apocalypse rumours, as the calendars do not abruptly end in 2012. This is a great shame for the producers of the imaginatively titled film ‘2012’, which depicts such an earth-shattering scenario. A warship is dumped on the White House, the Great Wall of China crumbles to dust and asteroids hurl themselves at heavily populated areas like Kamikaze pilots. The newly built Olympic stadium in London is raised to the ground, although given the number of policemen the Met Police are deploying for the Games, they clearly think this might happen anyway if we’re not careful.

Of course, if all this becomes a reality and the world really does end before the new year, I may be forced to issue something resembling an apology. Should a plummeting rock of space debris strike me squarely between the eyes, I will be delighted to admit I was wrong, all six billion pieces of me. Although I will be extremely pissed off because our alleged happily never after occurs just four days before Christmas. Still, it might provide a decent excuse to leave Xmas shopping until the last minute. God help department store cashiers on the 22nd December.

Another aspect of 2012 doomsday theories is that a planet called Niburu (you really couldn’t make this mumbo jumbo up) is heading towards us at an alarming rate. Such rumours have gained enough traction to force NASA into issuing statements rubbishing the idea. As they quite correctly point out, astronomical gear isn’t exactly hoarded by governments and if national authorities were hiding the truth to avoid global panic, then surely at least one amateur enthusiast with a telescope might point out a big ball of fire heading our way.

We have seen it all before with the Millennium Bug and everything there turned out to be OK. Except… Hold those horses. If you are not aware of the terror that is soon to be unleashed, begin your fretting and a-worryin’ once more, for there is a new battle against technology on the horizon. Knows as Y2K38, it has been argued that 2038 could precipitate more hardware problems. Apparently, according to the phenomenon’s Wikipedia page (you know shit might hit the fan when Wikipedia gets involved),“The problem affects all software and systems that both store system time as a signed 32-bit integer, and interpret this number as the number of seconds since 00:00:00 UTC on Thursday, 1 January 1970. The furthest time that can be represented this way is 03:14:07 UTC on Tuesday, 19 January 2038. Times beyond this moment will ‘wrap around’ and be stored internally as a negative number, which these systems will interpret as a date in 1901 rather than 2038”. Well, that cleared that up.

In summary, twenty-six years hence, machines will interpret the correct date for one 137 years ago. We needn’t worry though, because we can experience such an event right now by going on a package holiday to Scarborough. Still, all joking aside, remember the name Y2K38. It will be used to justify spending unprecedented sums of taxpayer’s money on defence mechanisms against a paltry threat. If you believe the 2012ers however, we won’t even have the chance to be fleeced in order to combat Y2K38, so all is well and good. Except the bit about a nasty, prolonged death.