Larfing fit to bust
The Beatles were the first ‘pop group’ I ever loved, and possibly the last, as I can’t think of another band for whom I would have screamed and waved banners. To this day I cannot understand how my best friend Lorraine and I were allowed to go to Wembley Stadium aged around 10 with our elder brothers to see the NME Poll Winners’ concert with The Beatles topping the bill. I don’t remember much fraternal pastoral care, but my mother gained immeasurable brownie points by letting us paint ‘Johnny Rhythm’ on an old sheet in homage to John Lennon. The girls in the seats behind us were unimpressed – I don’t think they could see the stage at all.
John Lennon was my introduction to an alternative style of writing. In His Own Write was his first book; a surreal collection of short stories and poems, illustrated in his unique style. The language upended my understanding of words and meaning. The title of this blog is one tiny example; it turned out you could structure sentences and spell words differently yet still be understood and make a serious point.
But mostly it was funny, and as this awful year draws to a close I think the best times have been when I can laugh out loud. Here are some random examples: I was with my toddler granddaughter who is learning to talk, and I was battling with the straps and catch on her buggy. Finally I managed to get everything lined up and she was safely secured with a satisfying click. ‘Did it!’, she told me approvingly, excited to show that she too could congratulate another person on a prodigious achievement.
There have been countless occasions this year when one of the many images satirising Johnson and his pals in the Cabinet, Cummings, the government’s mismanagement of Covid, lockdown, Brexit, our ruined Christmas festivities has appeared on my phone and I have chuckled happily.
One of my favourite comedians – or do we still say comediennes? – is Rachel Parris, who has a regular slot on The Mash Report on BBC Two. Her slots have reduced me to hysterical laughter on numerous occasions. For your sake, I hope you missed a comment by Jacob Rees-Mogg last week. The UN agency Unicef is responsible for providing humanitarian aid to children worldwide. As part of its programme of support that is set to distribute more than £700,000 to help fund projects for children and their families, the agency has pledged £25,000 to supply nearly 25,000 breakfasts in a south London borough over the Christmas holidays and February half-term. This is Unicef’s first ‘domestic emergency response’ in the UK in over 70 years of operations.
Rees-Mog is the man who accused the victims of the Grenfell fire of ‘lacking common sense’ for obeying official instructions rather than fleeing the burning building. He is the man who is quoted as saying he finds food banks ‘uplifting’. And he is the man who last week characterised Unicef’s support as ‘playing politics’ and claimed it should be ‘ashamed of itself’. I leave you to draw your own conclusions, but do watch Rachel Parris’s take on the man in this marvellous clip from 2018, and have a good laugh: