Onto this year's crop:
- On the 2 April, David Warburton, Tory MP for Somerton and Frome, was suspended after a series of allegations relating to sexual harassment and cocaine use. A investigation by Westminster’s independent complaints and grievance scheme is continuing.
- Imran Ahmad Khan, Tory MP for Wakefield, was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy after plying him with alcohol at a party in 2008. His resignation on 28 April gave his constituency to Labour in a by-election on 23 June.
- Tractor-porn-boy Neil Parish, Tory MP for Tiverton and Honiton, resigned his seat after being outed for twice watching internet porn on his phone in the House of Commons chamber. The resulting by-election gave his constituency to the Liberal Democrats on 23 June.
- On the 17th May an unnamed Tory MP was arrested on charges of rape and other sexual offences. The MP, currently remanded on bail is ordered to stay away from Westminster while the Metropolitan police investigation continues.
- And on the 30th June Chris Pincher, the Tory deputy chief whip, resigned after having “embarrassed myself and other people” by drunkenly groping two men at a private club. It is the second time Pincher has resigned from the whips’ office, having previously stood down as part of the October 2017 sexual misconduct scandal, after reportedly making an unwanted pass at Alex Story. An investigation into his conduct has been launched, following 6 fresh allegations. We are told (mainly by Dom Cummings) that Boris, being a bit of a pork swordsman himself, albeit in the field of fragrant delights, thinks all this hilariously funny; allegedly saying "He's handsy - Pincher by name, Pincher by nature" before re-appointing him as Deputy Chief Whip on the 8th February 2022.
Tosh, that's what. A pretty thin idea, stre-e-e-etched out over god knows how many episodes - (I've watched 3 so far), and adorned with a tricksy workaround of the indisputable fact that, to ordinary human beings, staring at lines of computer code is deeply, deeply boring. Watching a bunch of geeky actors staring at computer code is coma-inducing. The protagonist's mind palace (thanks, Mark Gatiss' Sherlock, unaccredited in the Undeclared Rip-Off) is a place of gymnastic, physical obstacles, including lifting a man-hole cover (them's heavy, man) which the frail little protagonist must negotiate; all this work-out shite being an external metaphor for sitting down and key-boarding. If you are attempting to engage with this lot after your accustomed half bot. of Mad Fish Sauvignon Blanc (I like the name, but prefer the Marlborough Sauvignon, which is just heaven in a cold glass), then you will have some difficulty in understanding the sequence in which the protagonist traverses a fairground, breaks into a beach hut and climbs through the ceiling, which morphs into ..... and onandonandon.
Anyway, it seems that Russia and Britain are engaged in a cyber war. We're two years in the future, Covid is still a problem, we have a black Prime Minister - Adrian Lester is chillingly brilliant as the billionaire Tory who overthrew Boris (what could Peter Kosminsky be hinting at?) and the Ukraine War is a thing of the past. I did like the device that Russian characters speak to each other in Russian and we find out what they are saying through English subtitles. Being able to read and occasionally being a little fuzzy of hearing, I like subtitles, which is why I deplored the streamed version going out without subtitles. And isn't it much better to hear the language rather than have the actors indicate they are talking foreign to their foreign mates by speaking their lines in comedy heavily-accented English, like 'Allo, 'Allo. That was back when all foreign was funny to true-blooded English men who couldn't read subtitles. Now all foreign is just frightening.
That was about all I liked. Granted, I haven't seen the whole thing, but I could not suspend my disbelief when Vadim, the spotty and geeky Russian hero, code-embeds a meet-up message to his geeky erstwhile pash, Saara, who just happened to start work at GCHQ on the day of the cyber-attack and he just happens to have spotted her on a spy screen in Moscow (oh, for fuck's sake) and - AND his scary bosses just let him go to the meet-up to warn the West that another cyber attack is imminent. Oh, do grow up.
Anyway, there's a real problem going on with Saara. She is narrow. Her head is wider than her shoulders. She is dreadfully, dreadfully thin. All bones - long, thin, delicate bones with absolutely no meat on them at all. Think chicken feet.
She is what clinicians working with anorexics would call a trigger. She comes from a normal-looking British Muslim family who quite clearly have enjoyed a fair old share of dahl and chapattis in their time - suicided dad was quite stocky, mum is a round bundle, sister a chubbily massively preggers young woman. But Saara inspires one with a desire to spoon feed her a good gravy dinner. The show may get around to addressing her anorexia. There's a scene in the GCHQ canteen where all the clever fellows wot listen to lies and pump out their own go for their pie and chips, and our girl has a green apple on a white plate on a tray for her lunch. She explains to the older gentleman whose solitary lunch she has invaded that she doesn't eat meat because she's a Muslim and that she doesn't like vegetables. Now that's a thin story - I've enjoyed many a meat and spinach balti down the Ladypool Road that deffo had meat in it. The elderly gent, whimsically played by Sir Mark Rylance, doesn't challenge her thin story, but later takes her for a picnic in the ruinous old GCHQ building and provides her with a sandwich carefully prepared to pander to her dietary preferences, and what does she do with it? Waves it about in the air before restoring it to the plate. There's a story line waiting to be unfolded here - suicided dad, anorexic daughter - can't wait.
Saara has already corrupted Vadim's sexual preferences - they were at University together, where he would moodily sketch her instead of paying attention to the lecture - well, he didn't need to, on account of being brilliant and all that; and when he finds himself back in Moscow against his will because Putin recalled all Russians from foreign parts (yes, Putin, it's 2024 and Putin is still in charge), he takes up with an anorexic widow, who he moodily sketches and whose cooking is so diabolical that neither of them can eat it, just summoning enough energy for a bit of under-the-blankets action and a trip to the zoo, where healthily-nourished predators gaze condescendingly on the emaciated forms of Vadim and his gloomy widow. Would you eat that? Nah, mate, break your teeth on all those bones.
The zoo? The widow has a female child, whom Vadim carries around on his shoulders like a trophy girlfriend at Glasto. Does anyone else find that a bit creepy? So, the zoo - another metaphor, I suppose, for Russian aggression. And if you didn't catch that, Vadim attends a lecture given by a swivel-eyed loon, who is working up a pitch of enthusiasm for all this cyber warfare, chaos, confusion and despair that will soften the West in preparation for the declaration of open war. By Russia on the West. No, really.
You can catch The Undeclared War on Channel 4 or on All 4. Will I bother with any more episodes? Hell, yes - I need to find out if Saara is hospitalised for her eating disorder - so brave of them to tackle these mental health issues in the middle of an old-fashioned Cold War propaganda vehicle.
Unless you’ve done this already, please register an account first, at lulu.com. This is advisable because otherwise paypal seems to think it's ok to charge in dollars, and they then apply their own conversion rate, which might put the price up slightly for a UK buyer. Once the new account is set up, follow one of the links below (to either paperback or hardback) or type "Ishmael’s Blues" into the Lulu Bookstore search box. Click on the “show explicit content” tab, give the age verification box a date of birth such as 1 January 1960, and proceed.
Link for Hardcover : https://tinyurl.com/je7nddfr
With the 15% voucher, PB (including delivery to a UK address) should be £16.84; HB £27.04.
|Hetero Pride week. Endangered species.