Saturday, February 23, 2008


Another non-controversial area. I received an email (at work) from the 'London School of Islamics'. They have opinions on multi-culturalism and bi-lingualism and funnily enough, generally think that their religion is the one to plump for. Fair enough I suppose for us woolly-minded liberal freedom of speech types. However, their latest newsletter on the subject of 'honour killing' (the practice of becoming a murderous scumbag baboon in the name of preserving apparent adherence to your particular religious mores) is a belter and I thought I'd quote some of it.

"Honour killing and female infanticide come from Pagan-Hindu-Judeo-Christian traditions". Isn't this great?! I guess this means that all religions except one are kiddie murderers folks!

Furthermore "The tragedy of forced marriage and honour killing could have been avoided if the poor girls were educated in a single sex state funded Muslim schools by female Muslim teachers". There you go - sorted! Pick the bones out of that one! I think this means that if young women behaved themselves (at taxpayers expense) no-one would have to murder them. Good one...

It then goes on about 'Muslim children'. Now as Richard Dawkins explains so well, there are of course no such people as 'Muslim children' (or those of any other religion), only those of Muslim parents (or those of any other religion). Anyway, at school said children are apparently exposed to non-Muslim teachers (the poor dears) making Muslim schools "crucial for Muslim children because western education makes a man/woman stupid". There you go!

There's more..."Muslim schools stand as shining beacons of light, serving as one of the most crucial factors which protect Muslim children from the onslaught of Eurocentricism, homosexuality, racism and secular values and traditions".

So there you go (again). I must enlighten my non-religious racist gay friends in Europe. If they're not murdering babies - or was that just every other religeon? Conversion surely beckons.

I'm sure the world is full of such toss but this email was sent to my inbox. Welcome to the 21st century.

Stepford Builds a Bonfire

This is the almost famous ‘dance school story’. If I could be bothered the prose below could be edited and polished into something better. But I can’t, you’ll just have to read it if you’re interested and write an essay on how much more brief, pithy and amusing this story could’ve been. If I did sort it out it’d just never get done…

This is a weird one…First thing is it’s a blog about blogging. Bad start I know. However, it seems my blogging has offended ‘people’. Normally it’d be ‘hurray to that’ considering some of the scumbag firms and idiot behaviour I comment on. However this time I’m going to explain the whole thing as, believe it or not, I’ve apparently offended people at a local dance school. I am not making this up!

What did I do to incur ballet tapping wrath? Who did I upset? How? Why? Well, it seems that someone noticed a blog entry from June 2007 and they’re now getting cross about it. Parents up in arms, dancers upset, police inspectors married to dance teachers fully informed, legal action threatened no less.

So…here’s the original entry with the name of the dance school removed (more on that later)

“Well there wasn't a sign officer
Saturday night and its ‘Showtime’ for the...Name of School censored!Along with the various dances done by the juniors the ‘seniors’ (a group of young women aged 18 to 20 something) entertain us with leotards, tight tights and split short skirts -all in scarlet and black. They sit astride chairs to the tune of ‘Hey Big Spender’, do the splits and writhe around in a variety of downright provocative ways.Then, unfortunately, a slight altercation with the stewards just before the interval. Well, they didn't have a sign saying ‘No Wanking’...”

I thought this was funny. Nearly everyone who I know who knows about this it thinks it’s funny. That’s really all you need to know I reckon, but for those with the patience lets look at what’s going on is this little story…It’s not great to have to analyse but I’m defending myself so I think it’s necessary.

This story is an example of what I imagine must be a very well established comic technique. You start with a real situation and gradually twist it into something bizarre and / or unexpected and a bit odd - hence the laugh. The twist can be gradual or sudden. In this I guess it’s ‘slight followed by extreme’. There’s even a punch line. I thought this was a good ‘un.

So, what’s happening here? Well I, or perhaps my ‘story telling persona’ did actually attend this event, it was 100% real. So, that’s paragraph 1. Paragraph 2 has a slight shift at the end in the phrase ‘downright provocative’. This is designed to introduce the slightly ‘odd’ bit and start the (probably unconscious) questions such as ‘was the provocative-ness (or provocation I suppose but that doesn’t sound right) intended, or merely in the eye of the story teller? So, you either find it potentially funny or disturbing or simply descriptive to taste. Presumably no-one very much gets offended so far (but who knows, there are some strange people about…)

So, on to par 3. The ‘slight altercation with the stewards’ is deliberately brief and ambiguous – where could this be going? What can have happened? How could this be related to the previous paragraph? Then the punch-line. Just to be absolutely clear, it’s here where I accuse myself (or my story telling persona) of masturbating in the audience - and have very strongly implied that there were stewards who noticed this resulting in an ‘altercation’ – more comic implication.

OK, so where’s any possible offence lie? Could it be that someone has taken it literally, if only partially? – Unlikely you would think but who knows…

Now call me stupid but just in case, in what kind of world (other than the comic one) would someone be seen / caught masturbating in public, have some sort of bust-up with stewards and then be allowed to see the second half of the show? Oh, then this same person in this same world then TELLS THE WHOLE WORLD ABOUT VIA THE INTERNET.

So, just to be clear, there was no masturbation, no altercation with stewards. This was MADE UP (I can’t believe I’m saying this by the way…)

Anyway, I have 3 bits of evidence that hint at the nature of the ‘offence taken.

First up we have the head of the school. I hear a story of threats of legal action (it’d be really interesting to know which law has been broken) and the fact that a senior police officer has been informed. My source was confronted with a print-out of the blog entry (!) and also informed that other parts of the blog were offensive. This is interesting in itself as once people are on their humourless high horse they cease to be able to read properly.

For example, it seems I used the word ‘Paki’ in my blog. I was intrigued as to where on earth I might’ve used the word. If I had used it I assumed it would’ve been in inverted commas in some comment about the things people say. So, I checked and discovered that I have never used the word in my blog. The only reference that’s close mentions ‘rural Pakistan’ (I get around don’t I?!) It’s funny how people get impressions. Looks like someone decided they didn’t like the blog and somehow convinced themselves that I also used racist language or something. Having said that, this is all second hand so maybe it’s another wrong impression.

A strange Bloggy thing by the way is that if people add comments to your blog (yes I know there’ll be some clever technical set-up thing you can do) you don’t actually see them. I write my blog I don’t go back and admire it, particularly if it was written months ago.

Anyway, the second piece of evidence is from ‘Disgusted Dancer’ (no, really, this is true…) who it would seem felt strong enough about this to sign up to Blogger just to leave this comment

“I am glad you enjoyed the show so much, lovely to hear how much you enjoyed your own daughter's appearance and not just the 'seniors'. I am thinking you are a little uneducated in the field of dance. Oh a by the way, tights are meant to be tight”

I assume the first sentence is sarcasm. A comment on the fact that I only mentioned the ‘seniors’ I guess. Fair enough if this was some sort of review I guess. Actually I probably wouldn’t have included the performance of my daughter in a story about wanking – That would be in even worse taste than my story. I should try harder next time I suppose. ‘Disgusted Dancer’ picks me up on saying ‘tight tights’ which I think is a bit harsh since I could certainly claim this is a ‘device’ like ‘short shorts’ or something. Anyway, I don’t want to slag off Disgusted though it’d have been helpful if she’d said ‘I’m offended and here’s why’. But I think there’s a hint in the ‘I am thinking’ line. Leaving aside the throwing grammatical glass houses / stones thing (‘I think’ would do…) that thing about being ‘uneducated in the field of dance’ hints at what I think may be going on, namely the relationship (or otherwise) of sex to dance or at least sex to dance in this particular show.

Before going on about that let’s talk about ‘Disgusted Parent’. They do have a Blogger name but I’m not going to give you that – probably more on that too if I don’t run out of energy. Anyway, Disgusted Parent says “How dare you insult the integrity and talent of the children especially the senior girls. They have worked so hard and do not deserve this sick review”.

There’s a lot to go for in this fairly short sentence. Could someone have thought this was a ‘review’ of some sort? Or is it a way of saying ‘comment’ or story’ or whatever? Obviously I don’t know. I don’t know if you can reply to a comment directly on Blogger otherwise I probably would. Anyway, first of all it’s an interesting use of the word ‘children’. No mention at all in my story of children or any implication that the dancers hadn’t worked hard or weren’t good except I guess by omission (rather than ‘emission’ which I suppose might’ve been implied – another joke that won’t be appreciated!).

So what’s going on? People may be offended by ‘black humour’ or rude words but I’m not even going to defend myself on that. They should get out more if that’s the case. To be honest no-one seems to have thought that (though I don’t know; strange people etc.)

There are 2 more likely reasons.

First is the ‘association’ thing i.e. having my blog associated with their school and on this point I have to admit to making the mistake of using the exact name of the dance school. I should’ve realised that changing the name slightly wouldn’t have detracted from the story and would have meant that they didn’t come up in a Google search (if you search for the school worldwide you get only get 9 hits or something). I always assume that people who read my blog are on the same wavelength as me and it never occurred that the easily offended or that people on the fringes of joining the green ink brigade (hey, I’ve been as close as I have come so far to hate mail – fantastic!) would ever get there by accident - though I’ll take readers from anywhere. But, in a massive show of sensitivity, cowardice and wanting to be liked I’ve now censored myself for the first ever time and removed the name from the blog. If it still shows up on Google for a bit they’ll have to complain to the Head of the Internet I guess as I can’t do anything about that. Why don’t BAE systems or Yorkshire Water threaten legal action then we could really have some fun?

My second guess is that people are shocked (or ‘Disgusted’) by the implication that sex was in any way involved in the dancing in this particular show. Now the story wouldn’t have been funny if it hadn’t been exaggerated but sex free to the extent that this exaggeration insults people’s talent and integrity? No implied sexual references in ‘Hey Big Spender’ then? (NB Hey Big Spender was one of the songs that the ‘seniors’ danced to).

Yes, this is edited, but here are a few lines:

Good looking, so refined…Say wouldn't you like to know what's going on in my mind…So let me get right to the point…I don't pop my cork…for every guy I see…Hey big spender, spend a little time with me…Wouldn't you like to have fun, fun, fun…Hows about a few laughs, laughs…I could show you a good time, Let me show you a good time… hey big spender…spend a little time with me

I think it’s important to state that demonstrating that this song contains ‘adult themes’ really doesn’t matter. You can’t remove sex from dance even if you want to, nor should you try, it’s like taking the margarine out of a cake. You can perhaps avoid going down the ‘Mini-pops’ road but how on earth can you do dance and it not occur to you that sex is in any way involved? Like doing pole dancing to keep fit I suppose…

Anyway…I’m bored with this whole thing now. Afterwards it would seem that the dance school Mums were talking about a possible letter to the Evening Post. It’d be interesting to see how that were worded! A solicitor was mentioned to and even apparently the suggestion that ‘I wouldn’t let him near my kids’. Nice.

So, there you go, joke made, people offended, yours truly banned from dance school, story poorly described…