Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Manipulating Public Services

Hayley’s first winter inside the new house.

The days are lengthening at last!

Have you heard Parachute by Timothy B Schmit – ex member of Poco and The Eagles? Click on the link and play the track - pure Dad music with a fantastic air guitar solo. It’s so CSNY, but that’s not surprising as Graham Nash contributes heavily to the track.

Hay and I were talking about the Rage Against The Machine phenomenon. She’s of the opinion that it’s no more than a bunch of people sticking two fingers up at nothing in particular – which makes it very analogous to mindless graffiti, and not even Banksy graffiti. When all’s said and done the people who bought the X-Factor record bought it because they liked it; those who bought Rage Against The Machine did not necessarily like it one bit.

Who really cares of Simon Cowell dominates the charts at Christmas – he does so because people buy the records of the artists he manages. Simon Cowell is not to blame; people are just very easily manipulated. Manipulation has emerged triumphant on both sides of this little spat; no-one has won a victory that will change anything in a meaningful way. The only change will be that we’ll probably have the same bit of fun next year and it will become a quaint tradition. However, the people who organised this year’s mobfest will have to make the selection again year-after-year, or else there will be no direction on which track to focus the X-Factor counter culture and the effort will fizzle out like a scattergun. Anarchy needs leaders.

However, would we have had the Rolling Stones, Led Zep, Pink Floyd, the Police, CSNY, etc. if the music moguls had ruled the airwaves from ’64 to ’84, as they have done for the last 25 years. Perhaps it’s a warning shot across the bows of the moguls who seem fixated on eliminating edgy music.

The manipulation of perception is much underrated – who, 20 years ago, would have thought people would buy an fragrance called ‘Diesel’? I confidently predict that in within 20 years a large swathe of the population could be CONFIDENTLY wearing a fragrance called ‘Shit’.

Yesterday I was listening to the Chief Executive of Eurostar being interviewed several times over the day. For those from abroad, the Channel Tunnel Eurostar service was disrupted over the weekend due to bad weather and unforeseen problems with electronics malfunctioning in extreme conditions. Radio interviewers are increasingly becoming populist and very combative. It’s almost as if an apology is no longer acceptable and people who makes mistakes need to be publicly flogged in the town square or bunged into the Big Brother House for public humiliation. Failure to predict every conceivable scenario is no longer an option in public service. I’m not comfortable with this and it’s symptomatic of an intolerant society. It’s a replacement for gladiatorial contests, bear baiting, dog fighting and cock fighting.

Talking of which, the leaders of the major British political parties have agreed to a round of televised public debates in the lead up to the General Election. I vote for putting them in the Big Brother House, or Political X-Factor – which has already been mooted by Simon Cowell. The latter option is the only way in which you’d conceivably get me to watch anything with Simon Cowell's name attached to it.


  1. May you have a very merry Christmas in your new home (eventually), Sir! My best to you and Hay and the stranded lorry-jobbies! x

  2. Woman: Lag may your lum reek, if that's the right felicitation.