My colleague said she had tried the BBC Archers website but couldn’t find the relevant page on the character (she should have tried a little harder) so as I already have an account with which to log onto BBC messageboards, I volunteered to post a question asking for an urgent reply. Well, for some reason that was a red rag to a bull (or rather a lot of them) and an excuse for a general slagging off of the Mail, newspapers, journalists and Uncle Tom Cobley and all. Many, if not most, of the messages were pretty illiterate, many faux clever and almost all confirmed my suspicion that a great many Archers fans are a self-regarding bollockheads who are only too pleased to subscribe to an urban fantasy of rural life.
Although I work in London for four days a week, my home is in North Cornwall in a part of the country which could not get more rural, and believe me the rural life portrayed in The Archers is a kind of fantasy. It’s not that we don’t have gays – we had a gay publican – and it’s not that we don’t have drugs or any of the other problems portrayed in The Archers. But it's that we simply don’t have the sheer concentration of ‘issues’ aired in the soap. My brother-in-law is a beef farmer and another brother-in-law is a dairy farmer and both, although unlike in their interests (one is in the process of teaching himself the accordion) are pretty typical of farmers in our neck of the woods, and they are not interested in ‘cutting their carbon footprint’ and discovering ways of recycling. On the other hand this is exactly what libs up and down the country would like them to be interested in. What is so galling about The Archers is that quite apart from indulging itself and its listeners in a fantasy world, it runs a mile from the real world of rural life.
So, unfortunately, almost everyone I know is in favour of foxhunting whether they admit to having voted Tory or Lib Dem in the last election (and ironically I am not and also do wonder why so many people get their jollies by blasting shotguns at birds in the sky). But you do not hear that particular aspect of rural life aired in The Archers. So, dear Archers, fans in your urban towers, dream on.
In fact, given the recent spat with several Yanks on the IMDB message board, I am making something of a habit of upsetting idiots. It's all rather encouraging.
. . .
The breaking news of the day is that a baby in California has given birth to two men and that the three of them are destined to live happily ever after. The science of it all is still a
bit vague as there is no previous evidence of a baby giving birth to anything. (Strictly speaking, I should say previous reliable evidence as there is evidence that a baby born 2,000 years apparently ago gave birth to what, in time, became an overweening corporation worth billions of pounds which sold punters around the world the promise of everlasting life. That promise should not be mistaken for the pledges made by numerous lotions which claim to cure male pattern baldness, make your dick twice as long, or to make you irresistible to women – or men if that’s your bag – as they are apparently just a tad more respectable.)
The baby has announced it will call its offspring ‘Sir’ Elton John and David Furnish. There has already been a great deal of controversy over the news – quite apart from the unprecedented science involved – not least because the baby is denying completely that it was merely gaining two fashion
accessories which will be trotted out at showbiz parties and premieres. The three of them, the baby insists, will live as a ‘normal family’ and any suggestions to the contrary will be referred to its lawyers who will threaten such a legalistic shit storm if the allegations are not withdrawn that suicide by the guilty party would be the lesser evil.
In response to the news, forward-thinking organisations around the world (but not Nick Clegg apparently, who claims he has other things on his plate) insist it is every baby’s human right to give birth to two men if it so chooses and suggestions that it is merely an combination of consumerism and an unhealthy vanity which has taken a step too far belong in the Dark Ages.
. . .
The mutual shilly-shallying on The Archers messageboard reminded me once again how innocently prejudiced are many people who wouldn’t think of themselves as prejudiced in a million years. Many people bang on about the Mail being ‘full of hate’ and ‘racist’, yet, as I pointed out in one of my post on the messageboard, if you want the full Monty of hate-filled splenetic fury, just visit the Guardian messageboards where you will get more than you can handle. I remember once coming across a post hoping that ‘Thatcher will die of cancer’ and various observations along the lines of ‘Tories? Hanging’s too good for them. They should be dragged through the streets bollock naked, then hung drawn and quartered’. Yet I suspect that, if questioned, those who post such drivel would regard themselves are rather intelligent liberal types who see themselves as ‘broadminded’ and who ‘care’, though about what is rather vague. I suspect that, at the end of the day what they really care about is being thought well off by their peers.
If I were to write – and I think I have recently – that our capacity for self-delusion is infinite, the obvious riposte is ‘your capacity, too?’ and I would be obliged to agree. The trouble is that by its very nature quite in what ways I am deluding myself will always be rather hard for me to spot. To others it might be blindingly obvious from one hundred paces, but were they to tell me, I should imagine I would find it hard to believe I am guilty of what they suggest. If I had more integrity, I would undoubtedly spend the next ten to fifteen minutes reflecting on in what possible ways I am deluding myself. But, to be honest, I can’t be arsed. And I suppose admitting as much is a kind of integrity in itself. An example of self-delusion might well be how all the self-appointed great and good in Britain have, as one, united behind the cause of Julian Assange. Yet to my knowledge none of them has said a dicky bird about Bradley Manning, the young U.S. Army squaddie who made it all possible, but is now looking at 200 years in chokey for daring to upset the American establishment.