rebness: (Mercedes Laberinto)

I’ve been enthralled with zombies of late. It started off with Charlie Brooker’s Dead Set, a five-part programme shown in the run-up to Hallowe’en, wherein zombies invade Britain, unbeknown to the contestants in the Big Brother house. Guys, watch it if you can. It’s awesome.

Brooker is one of my favourite writers. I enjoy his misanthropic colums in The Guardian and read an article he wrote about the genesis of Dead Set and why he is fascinated with zombies: ‘
Zombies are the misanthrope's monster of choice. They represent fear and disgust of our fellow man. The anonymous animal masses. The dumb, shuffling crowd.’


That’s exactly it. What’s more terrifying than the crush of humanity? The crush of humanity with a taste for brains! I hate crowds and will do anything possible to avoid one. I will work late so that I miss the rush-hour traffic; the crush and press of single-minded bodies packing onto a train and trampling whatever is in their path. I am traumatised whenever I find myself in a surprise!crowd. I go into a concert knowing I’m going to be surrounded by zombies other people and that I’m going to get crushed; if I end up in the middle of an impromptu crowd, I have to get outoutoutomg. Please God, spare me the flashmob.


I think that’s why I’ve always appreciated Romanticism – the firm belief in I, the individual. Not for me the row upon row of boots waiting at stations described in TS Eliot’s poetry, or *shudder* a nightclub like Cream where you have to push your way around. I believe in the individual, above all. I distrust the braying, sheep-like crowd.


Which is a bit of a shame, being English and all. Because, UK? What is wrong with you? If it wasn’t bad enough that we disgusted the world by attempting to lynch the Bulger murderers or that we marched on London with bouquets and endless tears (BLOOD ON UR HANDS!11) for Diana, we’ve had a month of absolute, embarrassing hysteria.


There was the Russell Brand affair, where we wanted Brand beheaded or something for pranking Andrew Sachs on television. Then there was some person booted off X Factor who was a martyr and finally, the depressing, squalid death of Baby P. The press howled for heads to roll. Facebook groups call for a return to capital punishment. People gleefully share the names and addresses of those involved – just wait until we get our hands on them. People leave bouquets and weep and wail for the child. We should all be ashamed, they say, wringing their hands.


Decorum: alien concept.


There was a story I read some years back that reduced me to tears (lol, irony) and which has always stayed with me. An old man, Alfred Wilkins, had been accused of paedophilia. He was subsequently cleared of the charges, but whether he was guilty or not is irrelevant. The people in his area turned on him. They put bricks through his window, stole his belongings, beat and harassed him in the street and reduced him to living in the kitchen of his home as he was too afraid to even enter the front rooms due to constant violence. The community around him did not step in to help. Here was a person outside the law, tainted by suspicion and too afraid to seek help from either quarter. He was guilty! He was a paedophile and We Hate Paedos. Eventually, he and his dog were suffocated to death in a deliberate arson attack. It’s okay; vigilante justice prevailed. We Brits really like to see justice served.


Almost as much as we enjoy the media circus each time a new cause is brought to our attention.


When toddler Jamie Bulger was murdered, the British tabloids listed in endless detail the torture he endured in pornographic detail bolded and in CAPS and, just in case you wanted snappy facts to throw out at your eager audience, handy bullet-point summaries of each disgrace inflicted upon him. Baby P suffers a lonely, torturous existence for seventeen months, succumbing to death after a final, brutal blow. (This blow, of course, described in detail in the press.) And there we have it: sad and terrible death reduced to titillation. Last week, we protested at Baby P’s death. This week, John Sergeant has been ousted from Strictly Come Dancing and at the time of writing, more than 2,000 people have called the BBC to complain that they had wasted their time and money calling in to support him. Um.

rebness: (Thursdays)

Making the news in Britain this week is the issue of the High Street Clones. Namely, each city and town in Britain, and even on the Continent, are looking increasingly the same. The high street is dominated by four banks. Go to Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, London, Leeds, Carlisle… you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Every high street will have New Look. Next. Boots the Chemist. Starbucks. McDonalds. H&M. Every high street will have a Link cash machine ripping the customer off with charges to get their own money. Every high street will be done out in that red brick style.

I look at it two ways. There is the fact that these corporate pigs of stores are good for my pocket. I wouldn’t be able to buy a funky top for £4 like I can from H&M. My local newsagents sells spaghetti hoops for nearly a pound when I can get them for pennies from one of the big stores. I can rant and rave all I want, but at the end of the day… these places do help the consumer.

And then there is the self-righteous, angry side of the coin, which I favour. IT’S SO BORING. What is the point of a shopping trip with my friends to another city if I could get the exact same things down the road? How is a person supposed to have any individuality if 30 million people in the UK female population all have the same “choice” in clothing as I do?

I don’t have all that much love for England, so I can just about deal with it. Well, as best can be expected. What I can’t take is that… that Paris, Barcelona, Rome and Cologne are increasingly getting to look like each other.

I loved Barcelona. The city is so vibrant, and alive, and full of Catalan history. Homage to Catalonia came alive amidst the splendour of a city that even the Nazi raids had been unable to destroy. Unfortunately, amongst the funky stores on the Ramblas? Burger King. McDonalds. The usual suspects. Burger King was so vulgar. The workers were dressed up as if they were in a theme park of western “ideals”—beautiful Spanish girls with their hair dyed blonde, spouting Burger King hospitality phrases. McDonalds was…well, McDonalds. Oh, with pictures of Gaudi’s timeless architecture adorned with “I’m loving it.”*

Europe’s sense of history and its sheer breadth of aesthetic difference in such a small area is its strength. If every town and city that has seen so much turmoil, so much celebration, bloodshed and history turns into a sterile world of red-brick paving and clone stores, that identity and the lessons we’ve learned will be lost amid foil-wrapped sandwiches and discount clothing in a way that Hitler and Caligua and Napoleon never quite managed.

*I was recovering from illness and was feeling dizzy so needed a drink. Even a bone-eroding fizzy carbonated drink. McDonald’s was the nearest place. I hate myself.

rebness: (Default)

[ profile] zhonghua2000 posted recently about the alleged fifty worst songs in the world. Being a bitter sort of person, there are an infinite number of songs I hate, so I decided to make my own list of ”songs )

In non-bitter news, thanks everyone for the birthday wishes! Was most splendid.


rebness: (Default)

August 2013

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