Michael Palin v Fat Watchdog Conman

Did anybody watch any Monday night TV and see the chauvinistic socially awkward dodgy facial hair mobile car repair conman on Watchdog?  The stuff coming out of his mouth about women made me cringe.  And, never slow to take the moral high ground, the Rogue Traders presenter made an absolute fool of him.  The message – how dare he make comments like that about women!  And I totally agree…

…however, just minutes later up pops Michael Palin on his well publicised travels around Brazil.  The first thing he does is take a trip down the beach with some sort of guide to go, as he puts it, ‘girlwatching’.  The guide says how you have to look out for girls with backsides like melons and Palin guffaws along.

Why is it wrong for an eccentric, ugly and socially excluded guy to make these comments about women but it’s ok for one of our national treasures to be just as bad?  I think it shows that if the packaging is trustworthy and charming then we’re easily fooled into missing the blatantly offensive and oppressive.

Palin’s attitude goes back to before my time, to stories that are rife now of sexual harassment in the work place in the 80’s and before.  In everyday life today I don’t think Palin’s attitude would be tolerated yet as a nation we’re quite happy to watch along and turn a blind eye – what we let in through our eyes and ears influences us massively.  Everything needs to be watched with discretion otherwise out integrity, judgment and attitude will easily get damaged.


Narnia obsession and entertainment culture

Anya is obsessed with Narnia.  Whilst there are definitely much worse things to be obsessed with I think it might be going a bit too far – every spare moment goes into listening, watching, reading, theologically reflecting or drawing Narnia or asking questions about it.

I was a bit worried because every time she goes to her bedroom she switches on the audio book.  Even if it’s just to get dressed, brush her hair and put some shoes on – she’ll be listening to Narnia at the same time.  When I challenged her she said it was because she was bored and I realised, just like me, she has become a victim of our entertainment culture.  That is, we cannot bare to have even a few moments with something to entertain us or something to do.

Anya is uncomfortable in her room with silence so it is filled with Narnia.  I am uncomfortable with nothing going on so will turn on the TV, check my emails/facebook, listen to the radio, read a book.  I know that none of these things are bad but much more often I’d like to take advantage of a bit of peace and stillness.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

Mark 1:35

Chattering fool

Sometimes me and Anya read a Proverb at breakfast time.  This is great because Anya gets to practice reading, she comes out with some hilarious and profound points and, it is certainly of use to get an early morning dose of the Word of God.

Yesterday we read:

 “The wise in heart accept commands,
       but a chattering fool comes to ruin.”  Proverbs 10:8

I asked Anya, Who gives commands?” and the genius came up with God through Moses, parents, teachers and governments.  We had a chat about when you talk in class you sometimes miss what the teacher asks you to do and it led me to the very simple, obvious but life changing conclusion that if we spend too much time distracted by other things, the ‘chatter’ of life, then we will miss out on the words of God for today.

Our God is a living God who interacts and relates with the beings he has created.  Spend time each day listening, pause to think, look around you.  I sometimes feel like I constantly need background noise – tv, work, conversation, MP3, newspapers, internet….none bad in themselves, yet all these things sometimes lead this fool to ruin.

Tony: I’ve lost my family

A 16 year old boy moving from hostel to hostel then gets a council flat.  He hasn’t got a clue.  This BBC3 documentary was one of the most tragic things I have ever seen.

He has no family, one friend, no job, debt, challenging social skills, can’t do ANYTHING for himself.  Hardly understands ANYTHING about the world.

It’s lads like that that my work at the YMCA is aimed at, aiming to provide a room in a family home with a bit of structure.  I found this film a real challenge to what I do.  The kids are more than just stats.  Tony has so much character, personality and a creative streak.  And deep, hidden somewhere inside him there is a drive to survive.  Young people are great.

There’s some really positive twists at the end but there’s a long tough road ahead for him.

If you fancy watching it you can catch it on BBC iPlayer.  Well worth an hour of your time.

Having sex prevents aids, apparently

I saw this t-shirt for sale in H&M yesterday.

The slogan is ‘Life is too short, have sex, be safe’.  It made me quite mad actually.  We live in a world where people don’t like others’ beliefs rammed down their throats and here was I quite innocently going about my business when I was confronted with this ‘world view’ emblazoned in front of my eyes.  According to the media (including t-shirts) one of the most important things you need to be doing to be fulfilled is to be having sex.

I think this is wrong.  I see that many of the world’s problems (family breakdown, poor mental health, substance misuse, abortion, disease) have a strong link to people having sex or not having it when they believe they should be having it.  I believe that we are designed to share sex with just one person.  When you go against this design then there are negative consequences.

As a youthworker it is wrong for me to force my beliefs onto the young people I work with.  Fair enough.  But what frustrates me is that through music, TV, film, clothing, magazines, radio etc. young people are forced to absorb the value that they must have sex as much as possible yet nobody seems to care.  Nobody actually does anything about the influence of the media on vulnerable minds.  Just take all the stripping, sex obsessed acts that were paraded on ‘wholesome family entertainment show’ Britain’s Got Talent as a prime example.

What really shocked me, as I searched for an image of the t-shirt, is that the t-shirt is part of a range that is meant to be fighting AIDS!  Don’t get me wrong, I understand people will have sex and need to be constantly reminded to make sure they are safe.  However, the slogan on this t-shirt has got it all wrong and definitely gives out the message – life is too short to worry about consequences and responsibility, just make sure you have loads of sex (and while you’re busy at it try and stay safe).

I love Eurovision because…

…Terry Wogan is not on it anymore

…you get to glimpse a tiny bit of cultures you wouldn’t normally be exposed to

…if you ever feel embarrassed ever you can just think about the cringe worthy script the presenters have to read out to an entire continent and realise your own embarrassment pales into insignificance

…Graham Norton is quite likably and innocently enthusiastic*

…we get to hear Balkan music on British television and it is gorgeous music

…it is just really nice to see a load of people having a really good fun time – it’s healthy to get my snobby little nose a little more horizontal and just smile with the people being daft and crazy and eccentric

…I am a statistic geek and you can’t get anymore statistics than that crammed into one night’s entertainment

…we’re all different and it’s good to remind us (especially in the UK) that different isn’t bad and diversity makes life a whole lot more interesting 😀


*Yes I know I wrote ‘Graham Norton’ and ‘innocent’ in the same sentence but I loved the way he was genuinely excited everytime we were given a few points and he’s soooo much less offensive than Terry.

10 easy steps to getting ill

I am ill.  I can pinpoint several things that have led to me being ill.  If you want to be ill then follow my guidelines.

  1. Don’t eat any fruit for about a week – especially citrus fruits
  2. Don’t take some alcohol type handwash to work – after all there are so many germs you can pick up from door handles on the way back from the toilet.
  3. Consistently work an extra half hour or so more than you are meant to.
  4. Stay up after midnight at a gig in the middle of the work week – this is especially effective if you’re feeling very tired already.
  5. Don’t forgive people – a good dose of bitterness is great for lowering your immune system.
  6. If you’re feeling ill already make sure you go to work and stay there the whole day – that way you have no chance of making it in the following morning.
  7. Drink lots of skanky hot chocolate from a machine and have a red bull every day or two – avoid tap water.
  8. Make sure you haven’t done any exercise for a good month or so.
  9. Proudly pretend you’re Mother Theresa and do everything for everybody ensuring that everybody is pleased with you all the time.
  10. Every night when you get in make sure you get a good two or three hours of TV in – that way you can avoid your mind being stimulated and it leaves little room for peace, solitude, reflection or quality time with those you love.