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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dead Cetaceans and Touchy-Feely Journalism, Enabling a Community Near You

It’s touching watching hardy explorer Bruce Parry trek around the arctic in his current BBC series and explore the predicament of endangered species such as... the word ‘community’. It’s always good to have a word for non-white-skinned-people doing things in a group that make us feel uncomfortable. ‘I’m a bit uncomfortable with this’, Parry tells the camera, as somewhere out of shot his new indigenous friends are slicing up the bowhead whale they’ve just caught, ‘But I feel a tremendous sense of community.’

Over in the Observer meanwhile, rural drop-in centre founder and lifestyle pornography columnist Tobias Jones tells us how much his guests like their table tennis and monopoly, because when we while away our evenings playing board games (rather than, as I like to do, drinking carpet cleaner) ‘there is only ever one winner – the community.’ As I was telling Officer Plod the other evening when he so inopportunely burst in on that dog fight in the backroom of The Tattooed Bishop. ‘I’m beginning to wonder’, Jones continues, ‘whether we shouldn’t pick a metaphorical fight with a local bridge team or snooker club...’ But why stop at metaphorical? I can think of lots of people in the bare knuckle fighting community who’d be only too happy to arrange an evening’s entertainment for Jones and friends.

And still on that use of ‘metaphorical’, I am reminded of ‘A Shropshire Lad’ from Peter Reading’s latest slim volume, Vendange Tardive:

Just now, into the warehouse,
enters the Boss, white-coated.
‘Something awry, Tony?’

‘Well, look at the fuckin fucker,
the fuckin fucker’s fuckin fucked.’
(He was a great lad, Tony,
for his use of the metaphor.)

Community. An abject, pitiful word designed to mean, today, the opposite of whatever it once did.

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