In the middle of an election you’d think I’d manage to pull away from my traditional annoyance with the Daily Mail.
However yesterday I was driving – which I don’t do all that often do this days, and managed to catch snippets of BBC Radio 4′s Loose Ends programme BBC iPlayer – Loose Ends: 10/04/2010 feature none other than Richard Littlejohn. I only tend to listen to the radio in the car, and even then tend to listen to more or less anything but Radio 4 – so this was a rare occurrence.
In a few short minutes I was almost ready to plough the car into a ditch and abandon it so I wouldn’t have to listen to him any more.
There we had a lovely back patting group of people chuckling away on air at what a jolly humorous chap Mr Littlejohn is, poking fun at those oh so ridiculous figures of authority and the wacky things they do.
We get a few examples of his art. First up is Littlejohn’s story of the average zebra crossing costing £114,000. You couldn’t make it up !
Well you could, and Richard Littlejohn did – because the cost of pedestrian crossings according to Road Safety charity Brake Engineering – crossings, and also Sefton Council Pedestrian crossings is actually no more than around £45,000 – with a Zebra Crossing coming in at between £5,000 & £10,000. Littlejohn presumably thinks that it’s just a matter of getting a tin of white paint, and has obviously not factored in matters like what to do with the traffic whilst you’re installing it, how to make sure that no one gets electrocuted by having two 24 / 7 beacons flashing in all weathers, how to make sure that they last longer than five minutes and not get vandalised every two minutes, or any considerations of public consultations, council approval and planning considerations. No because he doesn’t need to take responsibility for anything – just make a number up and get some cheap digs in.
He also tells the story of the “Diversity Agency” spending £100,000 to send Burka clad Muslim women on fishing trips to the country where they stand in rowing boats wearing safety goggles while they try and catch a few carp. Hilarious. Funny how I can’t find any other mention of it, funny how no source is given for this information or the costs involved. Strange that safety guidance for fishing makes no mention of wearing goggles National Trust | Activities | Fishing – Health & safety
In fact there’s precious little evidence of this story even on the Mail’s website – although I did find Littlejohn’s reference to this in – hey ! – 2006 ! (Not exactly recent then Richard ?) – and a reference to the agency (that’s the Environment Agency mind – not the Diversity Agency – which is an agency that doesn’t exist by the way) in a similar article by Keith Elliott Fishing Lines: A broader church on the riverbank – More Sports, Sport – The Independent in the Independent. And yes this was 4 years ago – but involved not £100,000 but £1,000,000 – well what’s three zero’s amongst right wing journalists ? My guess is £10,000 if it happened at all, which I very much doubt. Let’s not let the truth get in the way of an opportunity to laugh at the way Muslim women look though Richard ? (To be fair to Keith Elliott – he’s somewhat more of a specialist Fishing journalist, and may well have sourced his article from Littlejohn)
The Environment agency’s principal role by the way is flood defence – and has an annual budget of over a billion pounds per year. More than a third of this amount is raised through fees and levies – rather than direct from the treasury. Its relatively small operation in relation to fishing, and angling, is funded almost entirely by the revenue generated from fishing permits and licenses which bring in around £20 Million pounds per year – not from the general tax payer but from anglers themselves.
Richard Littlejohn probably realised that he wouldn’t get a massive amount of tolerance on the BBC for his usually homophobic, racist rubbish, so instead he fell back on his dislike of Health and Safety – citing the example of Reading Football club who place notices around the stadium during team warm ups stating “Beware of flying footballs” – Well this is of course absolutely true – and rather absurd one might have thought. I wonder whether Richard has ever been knocked unconscious by a flying football – as I have seen occur, and more to the point I wonder whether he’s ever been accused of negligence by someone who has been knocked unconscious, because he failed to make someone whom he had a duty of care towards, aware of a known danger for which he was responsible ? .
This may of course be exactly the absurdity he’s wanting to point out – but hardly negates the importance of Health and Safety as he suggests.
In fact I had reason to think about Health & Safety rules the very next day – having spent the night in a Hotel – part of a big international chain in central Birmingham, my full English Breakfast was interrupted by a fire alarm, interspersed with loudspeaker announcements indicating that everyone should evacuate the building immediately.
I tried to leave by the nearest signposted Fire Exit – but was turned back by staff who told us to use the front door (and carried on cooking), I spotted another Fire Exit far nearer than that one – and found that it was locked shut – and eventually made my way to the front door – but couldn’t get out because people were still coming IN through the door. Eventually a receptionist came out and told us all to come back in, which we did and were met by colleagues staying on floors 2 to 16 where the alarm hadn’t sounded at all.
You couldn’t make it up !
If only we had more people like Richard Littlejohn, to help us get rid of these pesky Fire Alarms. What a nuisance they are, spoiling my breakfast like that
Richard Littlejohn claimed on Radio Four, that if the powers that be started taking notice of what he said he’d be out of a job because he wouldn’t have any more material. This is of course not true – he would go on making it up – as he does now.
Finally, If you’re looking for an Election angle for this blog, ask yourself this : Why is a high profile, publicly funded, and supposedly politically neutral organisation like the BBC giving airtime to a controversial prejudiced commentator like Richard Littlejohn without checking the provenance of his claims - during an election campaign ?
I have friends, relatives, and colleagues, who do stupid things. Racist things, Homophobic things – hateful things. And you know what ? Most of them don’t even know it. Many of them live in West Yorkshire where I was born and lived until my early 20′s. They are one of the reasons I don’t go back very often.
Antics like theirs are not confined to the Heavy Woollen District – they are all over the place, but thankfully now I’ve moved I’m not quite so caught up in that kind of thought process. I do of course apologise profusely to all those sensible Yorkshire men and women who despise the same things I despise.
Let me give you a flavour …
I know ‘people’ who’ve spent most or much of their lives in Germany and Cyprus with the Army, who complain about all the immigrants in the UK. No irony – none at all.
Some of these “older people” have moved to France or Spain in their later years – still manage to come back to blighty to make sure they don’t miss out on anything, still speak barely a word of Spanish or French, still mix exclusively with British people in France & Spain. Still complain about the immigrants in the UK not making any attempt to speak English (which as I work in inner London I know to be utter twaddle – but there’s no telling them)
These same semi-ex-pats happily complain about the EU – somehow it’s to blame if things are more expensive in France or Spain when they are there, somehow it’s also to blame if things are more expensive in the UK when they come back home. Somehow it doesn’t occur to them that it’s also responsible for them being able to receive free medical treatment whilst they are abroad. When things really do go wrong though, and they get Alzheimer’s disease (it’s so terrible that the French nurses can’t speak English), or they get cataracts that need operating on, or need scans for bowel cancer – where do they head for ? Yes that’s right – back home to England where that inefficient health service that the Labour government has let go to wrack and ruin, is so much more dependable than the ones in Sunny France or Spain.
Back in the UK of course others rarely go out of the country, and prefer to entertain themselves with a good old night out on the Town – where if you’re not driving – and these people do tend to get so rat arsed that it’s not really an option, you’re going to need a taxi or two, or three, or however many pubs and clubs you decide to go to really. And of course the taxis are usually driven by Muslim’s. Yes that’s right Muslim’s – these are the people that “these people” that I know rant and rave and swear about on obnoxious Facebook groups. The people who are a threat to our very existence, who want to blow us all up and take all our jobs (wouldn’t be many if we’d all been blown up mind) – Evil eh ? but if you need a ride down to the pub then who better ?
In fact these Muslim’s – who if “these people” are to be believed are in a conspiracy, with the Labour party and “The Gays” to force us to stop celebrating our St. George’s day. Sorry I mean “are St. George’s Day” – we’re in W. Yorks after all. Well these Muslim’s can rustle up a tasty and reasonably priced Chicken Madras with a family sized Naan, and Saeed down at the Taj is a mate of mine – so we’ll probably get a few extra poppadums thrown in. Actually come to think of it when did any one celebrate St. George’s day anyway. Well for me it was when I was in the cubs, back in 1970. There was very little interest in it then either.
Yes these people annoy me – not all of them do all the things I talk about, and none of them is necessarily a bad person, but collectively I have formed a group of people in my mind who sometimes say good things and do bad, sometimes say bad things and do good. The only consistent thing about their moral and political stances is their inconsistency. They boast about voting for a certain right wing nationalist party (which I’m not mentioning because I don’t want their offensive comments coming in) – but I know full well they can’t be bothered to go and vote.
These are the people who openly say that homosexuals should be locked up, and yet the moment that one of the few openly gay people they know enters the Big Brother house, they see no contradiction in starting a Facebook group to campaign for him to win. He may be a poof – but he’s “are poof”
Well rant over – but what do I do about it. Remember these are friends, family, colleagues. Not easy to kick them all into touch. Not easy either to win them all round to sensible thinking either.
I try and convince myself that it’s not their fault – they’ve just had misguided education. I’m not sure if I believe myself though !