“We are in a state of vague American values and anti-intellectual pride” – David Cross (for “vague American values” you can also read “vague British values” or choose the country you think most applicable to your situation)
I was offered a role in a show opposite Katie Hopkins. Sometimes, your brain doesn’t even flirt with the idea of asking what the fee is, it just goes straight into Don Logan mode, “no, no, NO NO NO NO NO NO no, no, NO NO NO NO no no NO!”
Some people suggested I should have said yes and aimed for a carnival of mockery, but it would be pre-recorded, so no control over what makes it to the screen. Also, I believe that by taking part, it is an endorsement of the idea that her “toxic opinions for cash” are a form of entertainment that should be encouraged. The show may end when the credits roll, but it seems an increasing number of people are not sated by the TV fun hate, once the screen is off, they are keen to take this “banter” into the streets, boots and all. I don’t think the jolly coves in the media who delight in twitter trending when they put ignorant, loud and aggressive provocateurs on our screens know what they are playing with. They may well be dabbling in their own demise.
I am finding it hard to write at the moment. I can write if there is a deadline and specific function, my columns in the Big Issue and Focus magazine or script for a Dr Seuss documentary, but my daily writing for the sake of writing, and finding an idea through typing and thinking, has become problematic. I always believed things were not as they seemed, but humans seem to be even less like I seemed them to be. Is there something even nastier still thriving in the human heart than I imagined. My humanism is brittle.
I had planned to write a new solo show next year and go back into stand up probably after a two year break, but I am not sure how often i should be speaking aloud now when so many others are shouting. Maybe I need another year of pondering in silence.
As I walked back down the hill from the school, the earth shrank below my feet.
It was a moment when the camera zooms back and you think about how small the planet is.
A planet so small that we are easily connected, yet repeatedly divided.
The popular politics of the day trumpets real and metaphorical walls.
Another of those moments when the human experiment seemed utterly pathetic.
The ability to think and use language misused to work out new ways of saying, “Hurrah for the blackshirts”.
During the Brian Cox Live show, Brian has been reading the famous passage from Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot that muses on all the bloodshed so that men could be the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. In the last couple of weeks, this has been getting applause. This didn’t happen in the first month of the tour.
While an old tribalism belches noisily again, a newer sense of despondency and incomprehension is spreading across faces. There is a dangerous glee in the faces of those cheerleading for an end to inclusion of the “not us”, accompanied by a salty, bitterness even in victory.
The scapegoats have been found, the evidence is not required.
As I walked on the shrinking Earth, I thought how preposterous our journey into space was. A species that can barely communicate with itself imagining a future on other worlds.
While the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence seeks out communication from alien lifeforms, people swear and holler at their radios listening to language they understand.
Is the applause for Pale Blue Dot is getting louder because people are increasingly aware that the sentiments of peace, comradeship and intellectual ambition that Carl Sagan celebrated are increasingly in jeopardy?
Those who read Steven Pinker more than John Gray hoped that humanity may be aiming for a reduction in hate as motivator and prime manipulator.
Men of the people like Jacob Rees Mogg tells us that we don’t understand the people. You’ll always find him sitting in the frozen pea cabinet in a Hartlepool Lidl on alternate Tuesdays.
Is the solution a healthier redistribution of wealth and education and, if it is, will it really be the further right that delivers a better society for those who feel excluded or will they just deliver the scabby balm of blame without improvement?
Late last night, I trod in Twitter. I have been avoiding it reasonably successfully for a couple of weeks. I worry that this form of communication has been playing its part in creating a new world order of zealous trolls. Because stupid and rabid furious screams of hate and mad ad hominem attacks now appear “in print”, all be it the print of the internet, people take their own opinions even more seriously. The words don’t just turn to lost vibrations in the ether, they remain and now they can see their words they must defend them with even greater abuse.
At 1am, someone decided to try and rile two “libtards”, in this case Ricky Gervais and me, with a picture of Donald Trump attached to the promise he’ll be bringing back the phrase “merry Christmas”. I think this particular zealot believed that, because we were atheists, we would be angry about this or care. Now is the time of year for Christmas lies by the more duplicitous wing of Christianity. I was pretty certain that Obama had not banned “Merry Christmas” and within seconds I found a series of official broadcasts with Obama wishing a merry Christmas to everyone. The tweeter did not thank me or express his relief that the president still said Merry Christmas. He seemed quite unJesus-y in his replies, and, having sent a stick man symbol of him “fucking my mom” that he had found on the internet, called me libtard a few times with some comedy quips he had found on the internet and photos of Hillary Clinton. Having failed to offer anything backing up his point, he declared he had won. Feeling so all powerful with his mighty arguments, he then blocked me.
It is odd that many of those most furiously fearful that Christmas has been banned seem to be lacking in even the vaguest hint of the qualities of the biblical Jesus. I get the inkling that if the Biblical Jesus walked into their twitter crosshairs, they’d be trolling at him with fiery and loathsome word drool.
I looked up at the sky last night and I imagined I lived near another star.
Consideration is not a weakness. Kindness is strength.
My “last ever show” and a few hours of extras, is available as DVD or download HERE