I love to eavesdrop, I’ve mentioned this in previous posts and it’s not a creepy thing, it’s just that when people are ‘off duty’, when they are talking to friends without the filter of society’s approval, they usually say what they really think.
It gives one the bigger picture, what people are thinking, what they are saying when they know Big Brother has gone off for a minute to freshen up.
In the same way, going out with people for an evening can also give you some idea about the state of our society, especially if some drinks are involved.
A couple of Easters ago, an ex and myself went with a couple of our former neighbours to a fund raiser for a new rugby club house.
Now I don’t especially give a shit if they get a new club house or not, all those years of listening to thickset solicitors and medical students singing Parlez Vous have not been conducive to my well being but at least, it’s a club house and not a mosque or a meditation centre for the transgender.
A useful tip at this stage, don’t get involved in auctions of any sort during such an evening. After a few glasses it becomes very competitive and I found myself on the wrong end of a three way battle for an ‘Easter Hamper’.
With absolutely no previous knowledge of its contents I imagined it would consist of probably a few chocolate eggs but also hams or shoulders of pork perhaps, maybe some Spring lamb, assorted seasonal conserves, some Bath Olivers with local Stilton in a jar you could keep later for use as a crematory urn, maybe a bottle of Port or some ‘fine wines’ of the Aldi variety.
Just £120 later I found it was actually only chocolate Easter eggs in a wicker basket, so many chocolate eggs that I became firm friends with Willie Wonka, enough chocolate eggs that I found myself walking the streets of my town stopping children and saying, “Would you like a chocolate Easter egg, I have some in my car.”
Enough chocolate eggs to warrant an ankle bracelet and a restraining order within 150 metres of my town centre, enough chocolate eggs to open a new line of enquiry in Pria de Luz. Do not get involved in Easter Hamper auctions, it’s a minefield.
That’s not the point of this rambling discourse though, we went with people we knew reasonably well. A younger couple in their early 40s, she a dentist and he a dental equipment technician with his own business servicing whatever equipment it is that dentists claim they use.
In my experience that is just a pointed probe that they ram into the nerve centre of one’s decaying molar whilst they say, “Did that give you a bit of a nip? Do you have Denplan, otherwise we can take your house as security for the work we are going to have to carry out, these are really in a very poor state.”
As an aside, I once briefly had a Vietnamese dentist who looked at the woeful condition of a bridge I was quite attached to.
“What you eat with this?”
“Well, I quite like steak, once in a while.”
“You eat steak with this, no you not eat steak, you never eat steak with this.”
If Benny Hill had ever remade Michael Cimino’s Deer Hunter that would have been the script. I left his tender Oriental care shortly after.
We are at this rugby club fundraiser and the compere is an acquaintance of ours. He is of the Mike Read school, the late cockanee Mike Read not the DJ ponce Mike Reid.
This guy is quite good in a Wheeltappers and Shunters style of delivery, in a Bernard Manning light sort of mould.
He does some jokes, a few I’ve not heard before and sings some Dino type stuff in between with a quite decent delivery.
“When the moon hits your eye, like a big Pizza pie, that’s amore.”
“A Chinese guy rings his boss, me no work today, me sick.”
Boss says, “When I’m sick I just make love to my wife, try that.”
An hour later the Chinese guy rings back, “Me better now, you got nice house, boss.”
That’s the level we are working on but I laugh, I have the world’s largest chocolate egg hamper collection which I will now have to finance over 24 months but I still laugh, my ex laughs, the dental couple look uncomfortable though.
“I just bought a Pakistani version of Monopoly, there’s a shop on every corner.”
“I went back with a gypsy girl I met as she promised to show me a good time. She wasn’t kidding either, I went on the dodgems, the ghost train and I came home with a coconut and a goldfish.”
And so it went, he insulted every creed and colour, every region of the British Isles too, just for balance. No one was left out, it was very inclusive.
At the end he said, “I would like to say it’s been a real pleasure tonight to be here with you but unfortunately I can’t, so good night and fuck off.”
Off he goes into ‘Little old wine drinker, me’.
“I’m praying for rain in California
So the grapes can grow and they can make more wine.”
Out into the cold April night, we exchanged pleasantries with our dental friends as I rearranged the boot of our car to accommodate the Easter Hamper.
“He was all right, wasn’t he?” I said.
“Yes, he was OK I suppose but I didn’t really know if I was supposed to laugh, some of it was a bit racist.”
“What do you mean you didn’t know whether to laugh?”
“Some of it was, you know, a bit racist.”
“It wasn’t nasty.”
“I wasn’t sure if it was funny.”
I’m not saying this was stand up comedy of the highest order, some stereotypes were definitely involved but there was no intent to harm or incitement to assault, just some funny, or otherwise, comments and one liners. Like the Dankula business, you should have the freedom to offend and people can just vote with their feet.
So we are about 20 years apart from this couple, they are not stupid but they aren’t sure enough in themselves as to whether something is funny? Is there not a gut reaction to laugh instinctively? Apparently no longer.
I’m left wondering what exactly has changed in that 20 year gap between us, in that time we have seen the rise of common purpose and the pressure from social media, we have seen an excess of correctness, we have seen people coerced and browbeaten into an acceptance of the bland, watery global diet fed by the media.
We have seen the rise of Nish Kumar style ‘comedians’ where everything is inclusive except, of course, the indigenous population, resulting in this fear that it is wrong to laugh at someone else’s culture or ideas unless, naturally, if it is our own.
This leads neatly to the acceptance of everything that one is fed, on a daily basis, acceptance based on the fear of exclusion, the threat of becoming a social outcast if you don’t conform.
One is still left with the concept of freedom but what we now have is remarkably close to the Soviet system that was derided here during my teenage years. We no longer have the freedom to express an opinion or to make a joke and this is terminally dangerous.
The next generation down from mine mostly now doesn’t know what is acceptable, what is funny or even if it is still permissible to laugh.
On realising that, to be honest, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry either.
© Viciousbutfair 2018