Where the cool kids hang

January 24, 2009


Very possibly the last komment korner.  Sorry guys, I know there’s a lot of affection for our weekly get-togethers, but it’s just a bit fiddly for me to keep it up. It may return at some point, but in the meantime, you know where to find me!


  1. Aw, I’m very disappointed, but of course the choice is for yourself and yourself only, Graham. I just hope it does come back someday.

    All the best

  2. Better get a plug in then — the funniest thing I’ve written recently, maybe (although really the makers of the film wrote most of it) —


  3. That whole “Oh gee I’m in a friend’s backyard making a video” thing. Unlikely. I want to be a punk rocker with flowers in my hair anyone? The music industry is rank.

  4. Thanks for the most memorable USA president inauguration ever. I watched it with twitter commentary from your good self, Peter Serafinowicz and Stephen of Fry!

  5. Ooh if this is that last one I’d better get my last caption competition entry in: “After many decades of abuse, attacks and alienation from society it was a blue sock in the laundry that finally brought down the Cookham branch of the KKK”

  6. It’s been smurftastic!

  7. Graham would you write a foreword (ie. a sentence) for my zine? I’m not sure what it’s going to be about yet so you’d just have to guess. I promise it’s nothing horrible though and you’d get a free copy (estimated value 50p).

    Which Smurf is you then?

  8. Thank you Graham – it’s been great.

  9. Sad times for the Delightful Crew. But on the other hand, Twitter’s got me good and proper now. I think this is the real deal. It’s eLove. Damn social networking… It’ll get everyone in the end…
    Any chance of this becoming a monthly thing instead or anything?

  10. LOL, someone posted a Moss mug on eBay:


    Unfortunately, I don’t drink coffee. I’m still waiting for someone to start selling replica Internet boxes, dammit!

  11. IT Crowd US DVD details…


  12. I’m going to blame the fact I live in America as the reason I hadn’t until yesterday seen this – http://theescapepod.wordpress.com/2009/01/19/news-alert-look-around-you-debuted-on-adult-swim-last-night/

    It debuted on Adult Swim just a week or so ago. And I will be doing my best to make sure my US pals know about it.

  13. Hey, thanks for the info Tom! Great news about the IT Crowd coming out on Region 1! I wasn’t expecting it so soon.

    It’s been good fun reading comments/questions/answers. Perhaps every nowandthen, this’ll open up again, but for now Twitter on, dudes.

    And yes, thank you, Graham.

  14. Sigh, I’m going to miss this place. I quite simply don’t get twitter. I’m not sure if it really is that simple or if I’m missing something. Plus I can’t get on there at work, and I don’t get as much browsing time at home(I’m such a dedicated employee).

    But….. Thanks Graham, it’s been grand!

  15. Sorry for double post but can anyone explain Twitter ettiquette to me? You can follow pretty much anyone, and they don’t have to give you permission so I feel a bit rude….

    Facebook is like having an annoying toddler demanding constant attention, but you can choose who can bug you. Whereas I feel twitter is a bit like spying through people’s windows.

    Or am I just strange?

  16. Yes follow who you like, the public ones know they are saying whatever to whoever and a lot are using it as advertising so don’t worry about being rude! You can block followers (my 2nd one was a charity). Best thing is to click all the links to see what they do. The joy of it is no-one can ramble on with the 140 character limit!

  17. Sorry to hear that this is the end for now. :-(

    Have appreciated it hugely!!

    Keep up the good work Sir…

  18. Thanks Kengnir….. I’m now trying to set my phone up to it and con a load of mates into joining. Although when they say ‘what does it do?’ my answer tends to be ‘um………’

  19. Jesus, That picture is going to give me nightmares.

  20. A video of a freaky robot doing push ups:


    That is all.

  21. Graham Linehan- Sunday Tribune ‘Celebs with Blogs’ list, right between the likes of Britney Spears, Kanye West and Leonardo DiCaprio.

    The boys done good, the boys done good.

  22. Got to admit, I’m gutted.

    Twitter seems to be less of a community. How do I know what DonalOF or Dan or FeckinPreist(sic.) is saying if I just follow Glinner?


    I guess I feel a bit like this: http://www.beliefnet.com/imgs/gallery/yourfunniestphotos/Disgruntled_Baby.jpg

    Don’t know about the rest of you, but the Friday banter is the best part of the best site/blog/community I’ve ever been part of. I’d brew a hot cocoa, put some Dark Angel on in the background, rock in my chair, pet the dog’s head and then read every comment, not just Sir Linehan’s. Ah, sure, such days cannot forever last.

    Cheers Graham. Maybe Twitter will draw me back in but my initial run was, well, just not that delightful.


  23. I’ve already twittered that robot video, Dan, which proves something or other…

  24. Sobbins…this truly is the end of an era Sir Graham of Linehan…

    How about making it a monthly thing? Wean us off slowly…cold turkey could have horrific results…

    I just wouldn’t like you to have that on your conscience…:)


  25. A monthly thing sounds like a very good idea. Let’s do that.

  26. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

    Monthly will do me. So much better than never!

    Now I feel like this kid: http://blog.wired.com/photos/uncategorized/2007/06/20/et_computer_kid_happy_surprised2.jpg


  27. The twitterizing of the Internet is bumming me out. Now Dave Foley tells you when he’s going to bed and lots of other funny people say very mundane things.

    Not that it’s your responsibility to entertain 24/7, but I’d rather just avoid the whole thing and imagine that everything you guys say and do is funnier than just “heating up #soup”.

  28. I’m going to bed. Goodnight!

  29. I think Twitter is fantastic!


    (I couldn’t find any of my friends on it nor were there any personal heroes.)

  30. Proof, were it needed, that the phrase “[adjective] priest” remains a rich source of comedy gold –


    Confessions of Star Trek fanatic priest
    By Rodney Edwards
    Sunday, 25 January 2009

    Meet Northern Ireland’s Star Trek priest. Father Ian Fee isn’t your average priest — a self-styled ‘Trekkie’, he’s been collecting Star Trek memorabilia for more than 30 years.

    Film buff Fr Fee (38), who is based in Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh, explained how his passion to boldly go where some priests daren’t started when he was a child. […]

    Money quote: “He has found the internet a great help in developing his passion for Star Trek further.” O RLY?

  31. I’d like to continue my twitter rant by saying that I prefer this kind of “here is my life!” transmission:

  32. I have dutifully plugged French Horn Rebellion on my blog.

  33. T Benn, right as usual. My wife works in BBC news and he’s spot on – everyone’s disgusted by the decision. But they’re all donating to the DEC like crazy!

    What does it say to the world about the BBC, defending this ‘impartiality’ that only Mark Thompson can see? Sure, they look impartial…in a sort of…one-sided way.

  34. If you haven’t already seen it I think you will enjoy this great, hilarious look at life in limerick during this recession:


  35. WAAAH!

    I don’t get Twitter, so I must be old, ugly and uncool.

  36. I feel like a failure now, I thought I was on the cutting edge of internet memes with that video.

    To be honest I can’t imagine following anyone on Twitter or doing it myself (although that is just because I do nothing). In your case, Graham, I think you’re talented and have an eye for interesting stuff that I would otherwise not find on the internet so I regularly turn up here. As much as I respect you, I don’t feel I need a running commentary on your life (BTW I’m judging your twittering without having had even the merest glimpse of it).

    Having said that, I do read Richard Herring’s blog, Warming Up, every day. And I would recommend others do also.

  37. The House will forgive me for quoting myself, but in the course of my life I have developed five little democratic questions. If one meets a powerful person–Adolf Hitler, Joe Stalin or Bill Gates–ask them five questions: “What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?”

    Except of course he didn’t, did he? I don’t remember anyone berating him for not taking Saddam Hussein to task, nor should they have, it would have been a cheap shot. But Tony Benn’s politics are SO on the money it’s such a shame the man himself always comes across a self-satisfied, bandwagon-jumping bully. Why pick specifically on the BBC, who have enough bloody problems on their plate? Israel doesn’t come into it. Oh good, Tony Benn “loves the BBC”. I’m so glad he speaks for everyone. No sorry I found that quite upsetting.

  38. If you found THAT upsetting, Simon, I would avoid looking at any photographs taken within Gaza during the last few weeks.

    And can I ask, why is Sadaam Hussein always trotted out when attacking figures on the left? Were we wrong to oppose the Iraq war? Because last time I checked, the war was a disaster that brought misery and death to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, just as people like Tony Benn predicted it would. Last time I checked, the wingnuts and Bush-loving intelligentsia (Cohen, Hitchens and the like) were proved utterly wrong, and people like Benn proved completely right.

    I have every sympathy for the BBC when it comes to the attacks from the jackals in the Murdoch press–but this decision is wrong because it is not ‘impartial’. It is heavily weighted against the Palestinian people.

  39. Yes that post did end a bit diddums. But some of these photographs were taken by, for example, the BBC, no? And your post doesn’t really explain why it’s the already jackal-besieged BBC that’s being SINGLED OUT in post after post everywhere for attack. Do you really believe the BBC in its news coverage is running scared of Israel? If you do then this clip is great I suppose. Enormous fun.

    It’s pretty obvious why Saddam Hussein gets trotted out though, isn’t it? Because he was the only tyrant Tony Benn seemed unable to condemn, as though condemning him was somehow falling into a “trap” or weakening the argument against war. My god could nobody in Britain in 2003 come out and simply say “This is complicated”? I don’t know and I don’t care who was “proved right”. The war has been a horrific disaster, yes. You’re right. And more than that, it’s been a betrayal. I was over in Kuwait in 2003 performing in the first Iraqi-Kuwaiti co-production after the initial invasion. Tensions between actors were a little higher than I was used to, both between the Iraqis and Kuwaitis who one month previously had been deadly enemies, and between those Iraqi expats who had left the Baath (sp?) party twenty years previously and those who had left it just two months previously and were consequently considered to be complicit in the arrests and torture of the former. They argued in Arabic, which I don’t speak, and it had to be explained to me that these raised voices weren’t the usual “Sorry but how can I be expected to remember my lines if she’s standing THERE?!” Our assistant director was twenty-four but looked forty, he’d spent I think five years in an Iraqi jail. But the show went on, with only one casualty (from a heart attack… he was sort of the Kuwaiti David Jason, called out of retirement for this show after ten years he danced offstage after his first big scene and then collapsed in the corridor during a costume change… having buried him the following day we used a recording of his voice for the next two nights and the other actors played to his shadow, it was supposed to be a comedy anyway) we did it again in Cairo and all got drunk and then those actors in exile finally returned home to Iraq, to work and make theatre. And get totally screwed over by a liberating power who couldn’t tell a Sunni from a Shia.

    So yes clearly I’m not “impartial” either. I suppose all I’m saying is in answer to your Saddam question, these aren’t simply facts I’m trotting out, these are friends whose welfare concerns me. The same goes for the BBC. Of course there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. One of the reasons I know that is because of the BBC. Sorry it took my knee to jerk for me to post. I do it love it here, Graham. Many thanks.

  40. Urgh. That reads a lot like I’m playing some horrible game of death-related Moral Highground Top Trumps. Or does it? Sorry. I’m not. I just thought it might be interesting. Urg though. Sorry.

  41. The calamity in Iraq wasn’t a case of some well-meaning innocents not knowing the difference between Sunni and Shia…it wasn’t (as it is so often called) a ‘blunder’. It was an entirely cynical oil-grab by people who tricked their soldiers into believing they were avenging the victims of 9/11. It was an attempt to turn a shell-shocked country into a Disneyland for rapacious, amoral fortune-hunters. Tony Benn was 100% right in opposing the invasion, and every single person who marched against that war had a clearer understanding of the motives of the people behind it than Tony Blair, Christopher Hitchens or Nick Cohen ever did. Complicated? Only if you believe that one dead dictator is worth over a million of his subjects dead too.

  42. Surely that’s not what complicated means, that’s the exact opposite of complicated. Apart from that though I completely agree with what you’ve just written. 3:27 definitely time to sleep.

  43. Hmm….is this the same Tony Benn who opposed NATO’s intervention in Kosovo? His advocacy for non-interventionism could also be interpreted as callous disregard for the less fortunate. Yes he’s a useful thorn in the Establishment’s side, but I’m just glad he wasn’t around when Hitler, Franco, Stalin and Mussolini were flexing their muscles. No doubt Benn would have advocated peaceful negotiation based upon drinking copious amounts of tea wearing wool cardigans while these dictators laid Europe to waste. Having said that, there’s a contradiction in his having supported Sinn Fein during ‘the troubles’. Say what you like about Tony Blair – and I suspect the man’s motives as much as the next man – but at least Blair brokered a ceasefire where Benn’s lot had failed to do so.

  44. I misunderstood what you meant by your earlier use of the word. Looks like we agree in general and differ on Benn. I agree his antics here have a familiar, somewhat hectoring tang, but I always like it when, after a long and entirely successful campaign by the Israelis to label any criticism as anti-semitic, someone–anyone!–is brave enough to publicly call bullshit on their bullshit.

  45. Sorry to change the subject a little bit, but I’ve been trying to track down a piece from Edge magazine a few years ago where Mr Linehan, Peter Serafinowicz, Simon Pegg and… someone else discussed video games and how they were written. I don’t suppose anyone has a transcript or a copy they could scan? I can’t find my copy of the magazine anywhere and the fantastic writing in Portal/Bioshock have made me want to go back to see what y’all said back then. My fingers are crossed…

  46. I can’t find the link…anyone?

  47. Hi Graham,

    I was wondering if it I could ask a favour of you. I am currently in the third year of a Journalism course at UCLan. One of the articles I am writing for my final portfolio is a feature about the writing process, with particularly focus on television comedy. As you are one of the people I most admire in that field, I was wondering if it would be possible to ask you a couple of questions regarding how you approach the writing process (influences, etc), the answers to which will be included in the final article? The questions won’t be anything too complex, and certainly nothing you won’t have been asked a thousand times before, so (hopefully) it shouldn’t take up too much of your time. And, if I psoted them on here, you could answer on here to. Simple stuff!


  48. Oh, Julian, I’m really sorry but I’ve just got too much on at the moment. Sorry, mate. But have you seen this?

  49. Hi Graham,

    Thanks for looking. Nae bother if you or anyone else can’t find a link (there seemed to be one on a Chris Morris forum but it doesn’t work), I think I’m going to make a trip home to my archives (ie: my mother’s house) this weekend and will try to track it down there. If I do, I might scan it in and post it to my website because I seem to remember it was a pretty great article. I’ll tweet you with a link for future reference!

  50. I’m pretty sure I have that article on a hard drive. It’ll take me a few days to find but if it’s there, I’ll stick it up straight away.

    By the way, v. sad that Friday Comments is closing. (or at least becoming WAY more infrequent) It’s always fun. I remember the days when we could comment on EVERY post! Ah, memories…

  51. I hope no one minds me bringing up ‘the war’ again. I just wanted to add my two penneth.

    I was all for the war in Iraq because I wanted Saddam Hussein out of that country and to have him and his thugs punished in an international court. Perhaps I was naive to think that the British and Americans et al had a cohesive plan to maintain (or create) a stable country. However the anti-war group in my mind essentially avoided all thought on the matter and followed their usual line when it comes to armed conflict.

    Someone above hit upon what I use as evidence to support this opinion. For instance Tony Benn opposing the end of a modern day genocide in Kosovo. I remember clearly all the people protesting that conflict and I think we can all agree that they were absolutely wrong. When the next conflict came along they protested against that one too and that time they were right. Right for the wrong reasons.

    I have never heard a convincing argument for an alternative course of action to war/invasion that would have led to the removal of Hussein from Iraq.

    And if I can just add one more thing: about the oil grab. Do you remember which countries were the most vociferous opponents of the invasion? Funnily enough they were the same countries that had struck forward looking deals with Hussein’s horrific regime for the cheap flow of oil from Iraq into the hands of their petroleum companies as soon as sanctions were lifted.

    Hope that wasn’t too garbled. I welcome any criticism or agreement.

  52. “I have never heard a convincing argument for an alternative course of action to war/invasion that would have led to the removal of Hussein from Iraq.”

    Since all the supposedly convincing arguments (put forward by the US and British governments) in favour of invading Iraq ultimately turned out to be total propagandistic bullshit, perhaps *not removing him* (and therefore not causing hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths/collateral damage) would have been the most sensible course of action.

    And as for the nonsense about ‘the anti-war group’ avoiding all thought on the matter – every single argument they put forward in 2003 has ultimately been proven correct. Furthermore, most of the politicians who instigated and supported the war have ended up thoroughly discredited. Tony Blair was forced out, John Howard was not only turfed out of power, but also lost his own parliamentary seat (a first for an Australian PM, surely?), and George W. Bush finished up so unpopular that he was booed and jeered at his successor’s inauguration. Congratulations though, on being one of a tiny number of people brave enough to open themselves up to potential ridicule by admitting that they bought into the propaganda. Further kudos for sticking to your guns and continuing to defend the indefensible, even when all the facts are stacked up against you.

  53. The “convincing argument for an alternative course of action” seems to be the present reality, Dan. Could it really be worse? Surely any alternative was better to what’s happened, at least in terms of America’s invasion (I still don’t know if Britain’s assistance made things better or worse, but that no longer strikes me as having been the question). Ending sanctions entirely was one other advised course of action for example.
    The weird thing about the Stop The War coalition is that for all its talk of Guerneca, the Blitz and Viet Nam, it really has turned out to be unique among stopped clocks in telling the right time one thousand four hundred and thirty eight times a day… that’s a pretty impressive record.

  54. “I have never heard a convincing argument for an alternative course of action to war/invasion that would have led to the removal of Hussein from Iraq”.

    So it was worth the deaths of over a million Iraqis? How many dead would it have taken to make you feel it wasn’t worth it?

  55. Although I agree that bombing is a hideously cowardly method of warfare – and that the WMD dossier was a despicable example of distortion and misrepresentation – the question has to be asked, how many people would have died had Hussein stayed in power? He had a proven track record of invading other countries, not to mention a penchant for genocide and torture, which at the very least is equal to America’s interventionism. I felt uncomfortable about the invasion / liberation of Iraq, but how often has the world sat back on its hands and done nothing about African genocide? Arguably the world view seems to be that genocide isn’t important unless the skin colour of the victims is white rather than black.

    It’s a barbarous world beyond the civilised fringes of Europe and a handful of other nations such as USA, Canada, Australia etc. If we want to stop human rights abuses then inevitably we will have to fight for it. Dictators don’t relinquish power voluntarily.

    There will be blood!

  56. PS.

    Interesting debate for a comedy-blog – most refreshing!

  57. PPS.

    Keep forgetting to say: thanks for the note re Stenbock: Gothic Detective. No hard feelings & best of luck with your own plans. In a race to the Pole I’d always be far less well-equipped than you. In fact I’ll probably perish en route from eating Husky liver or frost bite or some such ailment and be found frozen like that fella from ‘The Shining’, clutching my script with icy stone fingers.

  58. Q: “how many people would have died had Hussein stayed in power?”
    A: Less than actually did die. Much, much less. May I remind you, there was no genocide happening when ‘we’ went in. We brought the genocide!

  59. “Arguably the world view seems to be that genocide isn’t important unless the skin colour of the victims is white rather than black.”

    well, you don’t seem too bothered about the million+ dead in Iraq. Why is that?

  60. I’m just as suspicious of the pacifists as I am of the warmongers. I was uncomfortable with the Iraq invasion but I’m also uncomfortable about non-interventionism. With regard comparing the cost in terms of human lives, well, it’s rather like that old Vic Reeves aphorism about 88.2% of statistics being made up on the spot. I’d like to see a thoughtful and well-researched UN report comparing fatalities before committing myself to an outright condemnation of US policy in Iraq. Bashing Bush has become as popular as bashing Maggie used to be, and I for one always thought Ben Elton was at least as untrustworthy and smug as the Iron Lady. Undoubtedly Bush is one of the worst US presidents to have slithered into the White House, but it wasn’t him in isolation who pushed for regime change in Iraq.

    My point is, I suppose, is that you can’t rule out interventionism when it’s for the right reasons. Of course the question of right & wrong is an ethical one, and better taken by cross-party advisors or independents rather than power-obsessed world leaders of the Dr Strangegliove persuasion, but sometimes its important to intervene even if the consequences are not wholly predictable.

    This is all very heavy. In times like this I think we should fall back upon Stanley Holloway’s advice in the drily amusing song ‘Keep Smiling’:


    Gloriously charming!

  61. That’s comes across as quite lazy reasoning, Julian. This has nothing to with statistics. Yes there’s the reported world and the unreported world, but even if you’re going to totally dismiss the figures from Iraq, just look around you to see what a negative effect our presence in Iraq has had on this country alone. It’s stoked racial tensions, (particularly among the young – who I thought were supposed to be MORE LIBERAL), provoked oppressively high-visibility security presence (at least here in London where I live) and, most disastrously, sealed the reputation of this government as irredeemably arrogant and mendacious. Essentially it’s created a police state just in time for it to be handed over to the bloody Tories. Fab.
    And Margaret Thatcher didn’t write the Young Ones.

  62. Sorry Julian, that was a really insulting opening and close. Thanks for spreading the joy.

  63. Ouch!

    I’m interested in what happens in other countries but it’s down to the world’s politicians to sort out. There’s so much trouble in the world that the only thing I can get passionate about are things close to me (and of course individual tales of woe). I’m sorry if that comes across as heartless but it’s the truth.

    The psychology and theory of war has always interested me much more than the cold facts. Personally I become anaethetized to any long or complex stream of statistics, facts and figures. My mind starts wandering and I’m away with the fairies.

    It could well be that more people have died and suffered as a result of Iraq intervention, but before I form an opinion either way, I would need to see reliable data, data that compared both what happened and what might have happened had Iraq not been “liberated”. But to be perfectly honest I would still rather leave that to the staticians and politicians because I find the wider issues of theory, policy and psychological motivation far more interesting.

    Thatcher didn’t write ‘The Young Ones’? Say it isn’t true….next you’ll be telling me that the famous gag-writing team of Scargill, Paisley and Brandreth didn’t pen ‘Fawlty Towers’.

    BTW, I base my opinion about Ben Elton on a mid 1980s gig I attended which featured sets from him and Rik Mayall. Elton spent his time ranting on endlessly about the inequality of the very political opinions that he would later come to embrace whereas Mayall concentrated on the same surreal, childish humour he still stands for. Irrespective of his comedy pedigree, Elton is surely a hypocrite in terms of political belief. He was one of the most high-profile, left-wing anti-establishment comedians on the circuit, yet twenty years later he’s cast aside the political activism that helped launch him to fame to concentrate on writing Queen musicals with Andrew Lloyd-Webber.

    Queen were always the popular choice of middle-of-the-road music fans who didn’t know their Jesus & Mary Chain from their Velvet Underground. That’s what Elton is, a middle of the road liberal with a sharp capitalist eye for populism.

    Wagner was an unpleasant racist but he still wrote brilliant music. Elton’s contribution to comedy has been significant, but when it comes to his political credentials, well, the words ‘coat’ and ‘turn’ spring readily to mind.

  64. Hey, that’s far too long…..


  65. Let’s leave it at that, Julian. I’m too tired to go into the many ways your argument annoys me and this could go on forever.

  66. I’m offended that anyone thinks I bought into the propaganda. I didn’t give less of a shit about the publicised reasons for going to war, they were obviously nonsense. I’m also surprised to read that the anti-war activists were clairvoyants and KNEW that once the war had achieved its objective of removing Hussein with minimal loss of life that the country would descend into chaos as there was no post war plan.

    They didn’t know that was going to happen. Like a stopped clock, they were accidentally correct. They predicted a similar disaster after the removal of Milosevich. They also called for war crime charges to be brought against Blair and Clinton.

    The removal of Hussein was not worth a million deaths, I agree. I also agree that fewer Iraqis would have died over the last 6 years if Hussein had stayed in power. If I walk into a crowded hall with a gun and declare that if anyone moves I kill them then one person will die, the rest of the people will spend the time between that death and mine at the hands of the police experiencing what it was like to live under Hussein’s regime. Comparing the death rates under Hussein to those under occupation control is not conclusive.

    Lifting of sanctions? Yes, I agree that was an excellent alternative to invasion and I’m glad you were courageous enough to point it out, that all that had to happen was for Hussein’s regime to comply with the requests of the civilised world so that the sanctions could be lifted and the people of Iraq could then live freely.

    My position is clear: they were right to invade and remove Hussein, they were wrong to completely fuck everything up afterwards.

  67. It’s this bit that bothers me the most.

    “I’m interested in what happens in other countries but it’s down to the world’s politicians to sort out. There’s so much trouble in the world that the only thing I can get passionate about are things close to me (and of course individual tales of woe). I’m sorry if that comes across as heartless but it’s the truth.”

    Although it wouldn’t help, and would be totally inappropriate in this ‘delightful’ setting, a string of expletives is the response I’d be most tempted to give to that. Suffice to say, that kind of attitude really gets on my tits.

  68. Well, my twin sons’ inability to speak, dress or feed themselves because of profound disability causes me slightly more anxiety than the political situation in the Middle East, but if you feel I should apologise, then so be it, I do. I apologise for not caring enough about the plight of the Iraqi people.

    I should perhaps also confess to caring more about the plight of a friend’s twelve year old daughter who has been given just weeks to live. After all, when one considers the numbers in isolation, such personal concerns pale into insignificance, especially when compared to the numerous wars currently raging around the world.

  69. That’s the thing about the internet isn’t it. Nobody really knows anyone.

  70. Unicorn chaser:

    Apparently, Paris Hilton thinks Gordon Ramsey is Prime Minister of England. That’s what she told reporters this week! :D

  71. Julian, I hope it’s obvious to anyone that I was not suggesting anything of the sort. You can bet Graham or myself or indeed practically anyone would put our own loved ones above anyone else in the entire world. Nobody should apologise for that. It’s a different issue.

    My response was due to the fact that your original statement seemed to indicate that prioritising those close to you means you shouldn’t give a crap about anyone else. The fact that you’re involved in this debate at all indicates that you care about these issues on some level. Sympathetic as I am to your personal difficulties, and the awful situation with your friend’s daughter (sincerely, that must be really horrible), I don’t think it supports your argument.

  72. Hey, no offence taken, and none intended. Seriously. I just think we should learn to be more tolerant of each other’s views, passions and causes because many if not all stem from genuine & sincere humanitarian empathy.

    I don’t follow leaders (doffs cap to Bob Dylan) but I think there’s something in Morrissey’s petulant criticism that many songs “tell me nothing about my life” as well as Jarvis Cocker’s championning of the deeply unfashionable ‘Help The Aged’. For many years I cared passionately about global politics and would inflict my arguments on anyone within earshot, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve become deeply cynical about things. Somebody once said we get the government we deserve; well, I believe we get the world we deserve. I can’t shape the world but I can help shape local issues (which is why I raise money for a local childrens’ hospice and served as a councillor for a short time).

    Please don’t think I hold shallow views. Sure, I’m polemical and feign breezy disinterest, but that’s a coping strategy. I actually share the morbid world view of Edgar Allen Poe, George Orwell and Franz Kafka. Indeed, that’s why I’ve spent five years writing a dystopian novel which pays homage to ‘1984’. ‘The Trial’ and Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’. I care very deeply about people and social injustice and the terrifying CCTV culture that has been steadily creeping into our lives these past two decades, but when it comes to Iraq, Gaza, Indonesia, the Congo etc, well, these are things I leave to others to worry about, such as the UN.

    I have a neighbour who is terrified that people will use his driveway to turn round in. It governs his life. He blocks the end of his drive with upturned rubbish bins to keep them out, even though it means he can’t use his bins and has to drive to the tip to get rid of his household waste. Some people think he’s crazy but it’s important to him. He once said to me: “When my mother died I sat up all night thinking. When my cat died I cried solidly for three months and spent another six on anti-depressants.” And even though it was just a cat – a cat that used my front lawn as a bloody toilet – it moved me.

  73. Whoah! On that note! See you guys in a month.

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