Monday, 9 December 2013

The Christmas Carol doesn’t make me think of the Nativity: it makes me think of Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit doing a tap-dance


We all know what Christmas Day is about. Gazing through suburban drizzle at the Tesco Metro sign behind the slate grey rooftops and wondering how long you can last without self-harming? No: it’s about snow, and family, and a roaring fireside, and tradition. Or more accurately it’s about watching snow and family and a roaring fireside and tradition on a massive Toshiba plasma while you attempt to stifle domestic resentment with an evening of Sky One and burpy alcoholism.

Yes! All up and down the country, the blissful, holy peace of Christmas morning is aflutter with the happy sound of gigantic flat-panels flickering to life and bringing Victorian sideburns and hansom cabs clattering into the living room… It’s Christmas; it’s yet another adaptation of Charles Dickens.
Feeling the festive spirit
I tried reading a book by Charles Dickens a few years back. I advise against it. Dickens wrote over six hundred novels, each of which is twenty thousand pages long, and every single paragraph is couched in impossibly meandering, ornate thickets of narrative foliage. Sometimes it seems to take weeks just to reach the next full stop; the average Dickens sentence is longer than many modern short stories. 
I've never understood the national love-affair with Dickens. The Angelic children and chaste maidens, the saintly paupers, the grasping social climbers – it all just feels so stagey, so hackneyed. Call that a character? I swear I’ve cut out figures from the back of Frosties packets with more psychological depth. wonder if investing all the Dorrits' money in that precarious pyramid scheme is going to turn out well? Who could that mysterious, motherly old crone be who keeps coming to watch like a mother at the gates of the factory that belongs to the “orphaned” Thomas Gradgrind? It’s all about as surprising as a GPS update; so how can something so well-loved feel so howlingly obvious 
Well, there’s a very good reason: TV adaptations. In other words, the reason we feel like we've seen it all before is because… well, because we have seen it all before. If the twentieth century represented a sort of mass move towards literacy, then the twenty first heralds the rise of the post-literate culture, a world that’s moved beyond the book. Media has cycled and recycled the giants of literature into marketable (and profitable) cliché. The result is that we’ve encountered their motifs so frequently that it almost feels underwhelming when you come across them in print.
“What’s Scrooge doing in a book?” was what occurred to me, as I flicked disinterestedly through the Christmas Carol in Waterstones. He actually felt rather out of place there, as if he’d strayed off the screen from an ITV special and accidentally got left behind, presumably wishing he’d stayed in his trailer. Why would anyone read about Fagin when Fagin's currently co-starring with Danny Dyer on the West End? Or bother to churn their way through about nine hundred chapters of the saintly orphaned Nell when they can see the saintly orphaned Nell doing Celebrity Come Dine With Me?
In this sense, the adaptation has become more important than the work it’s based on. It would take a very high minded household to produce a young adult today who came to Dickens afresh; in fact, I’d say it’s almost impossible for someone born in the last few decades to approach the great writers except through adaptations. How many people recall Pride and Prejudice for its sensitive exploration of social propriety and familial bonds, against the ones who just remember Colin Firth jumping into a fishpond? Say ‘Dickens’ to most people and they don’t think of books, they think of fake snow and Bafta-alumni. In my case, A Christmas Carol doesn’t evoke the Nativity: it brings to mind Kermit the Frog tap-dancing to upbeat musical numbers as Bob Cratchit. 
Not that any of this is particularly new of course. Humanity has always spent a significant part of its time rewriting its bygone sages. Shakespeare was ‘reinterpreted’ with rather astonishing results in the nineteenth century by various luminaries including Thomas Bowdler, who cut out all the nasty stuff for a family edition – effectively a pre-television age of editing for the watershed. Poet laureate Nathan Tate went even further and improved King Lear by giving it a much-needed  happy ending, an interpretation which seemed to go down well with Victorian audiences. In our own day the production line of recycled literary classics chugs away so fast that the adaptation is arguably a whole new genre in itself. A recent Wuthering Heights movie played like a cross between a German silent expressionist film and an extended episode of Emmadale; Nicholas Nickleby was combined with social commentary on abuses at elderly care homes. At this rate it can't be long before we see Bleak House presented in three minute story-bites acted out in text-speak by a group of hooded youths standing beneath a flashing T-Mobile sign to a backing track of pounding dubstep. Well, at least it’d give the Rada graduates some new dialogue to learn.
The result is that the Dickens industry acts as a sort of colossal ‘spoiler’ to anything he actually wrote: the staples of classic fiction feel familiar because we’ve already met them elsewhere. A post-literate society doesn't necessarily know more, but it is more knowing. So perhaps that’s why I groaned as I stumbled through yet another Dickens ‘revelation’ that was so obvious to me it might as well have been painted on the side of an articulated lorry and driven through the narrative crushing curiosity shops along the way. ‘You can’t seriously expect me to buy that,’ I gasped to myself: it was just so trite and hackneyed that it felt…
… Well, how shall I put it? For want of a better word, it felt positively Dickensian

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Windowlicking


Book review: Tales from the Mall, Ewan Morrison

Can literature survive the consumer age? Acclaimed Glasweigan author Ewan Morrison answers that question by giving fiction itself a reboot: in Tales from the Mall, observations around the history of shopping are woven together with short stories to create a compelling meditation on contemporary society.

Here the mall – more a generic idea than an actual place – serves as a human cross-section, taking in young and old, locals and newcomers alike. Thus we have the hapless I Dunno Dave, Starbucks junkie, on a bittersweet NLP self-help ‘mission’ to the mall to get a girl’s phone number; we see the jobless advertising exec in her forties attempting to save a disintegrating relationship in a powerful account of ageing in an increasingly youth-driven world, or the former Soviet Union émigré attempting to adjust to life in a western city centred around shopping. Confusion, insecurity and alienation thread their way through all their lives.  

Morrison’s skill lies in his ear for natural dialogue, his human empathy, and his facility for teasing out the fears and conflicted desires that drive human behaviour. A sense of powerlessness permeates the stories, which are sometimes horribly funny – as in the tale of the scabrous, racist ‘Rena the Cleana’ whose bigotry inadvertently saves a suicide case – but often very sad, too, like the pensioner escorted off the mall’s premises for the crime of consuming an unpurchased snack. Perhaps most interesting of all though are the non-fic accounts of consumer manipulation (did you know that shoppers are corralled using techniques originally developed for cattle? Or that the most expensive display space in the complex is the panel opposite the ladies’ shoe shop – ‘windowlicking’ raised to spatial science?)

Tales from the Mall is best when it evokes the terrifyingly ‘liquid’ condition of modern life, where the modern citizen is encouraged to eschew traditional bonds and roles in favour of shopping around for something better. As such, it’s a trenchant comment on the effect that contemporary capitalism has on us all – the ‘mall without walls’ that increasingly serves as a model for all our social relations. The book ends by evoking the mall as junk space, an airless and disembodied limbo, with a character selling spec apartments inside it barricaded against the poverty and riots outside – but for how long?

That, along with much of the rest of the book, serves as an indictment of a society that puts malls at the centre of civic life. If only all novelists were as keen to peel back the brand names and find the stories beneath.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

I don’t care what you say. You’re nothing but a work of fiction designed to give my life meaning



The voices in my head have put me on hold


I recently heard one of those ‘news’ stories about a plan to deploy remote-controlled ‘robo fish’ for marine scouting – something that’s no doubt more eco-friendly than an actual underseas expedition, though we can assume it might lead to some unexpected toothache in larger predators. What’s interesting is the question it begs: are we now witnessing the slow creep towards a natural world populated by machines? Towards an age of Adobe Photosynthesis? Is the age of the iTree finally upon us?
            The last film to explore such a possibility was the clunking Terminator 4, a movie which actually featured its own kind of robo-fish in the form of a mechanised eel thrashing about on a vivisection plate. But that little slice of steampunk raised awkward questions. Why would machines bother to populate the planet with an eel? Even if it could be deployed as a slithery landmine, why wouldn’t they just produce three less eels and one more terminator? Or was Skynet simply attempting to add a bit of variety to life?
            You see the nub of the problem. If we go with the idea that computers suddenly care about marine quotas, all sorts of unlikely implications follow. Cyborgs would, presumably, create the kind of world that cyborgs would enjoy living in. But what would that mean exactly? Are we to picture terminators enjoying a cappuccino? Or a kill-hungry replicant doing a bit of interior decorating, or hanging drapes in the living room? Would a T-800 bother to spraypaint its assault rifle?
            This is where any attempt to imagine an automaton dystopia runs into trouble. It’s all very easy to represent war-torn Armageddon in cyborgia, but what about Sunday afternoons? Would androids spend them sweeping their driveway or installing a new patio barbecue? If you took a dip in the lake in robot world might you encounter a terminator towelling themselves off in the bushes? These might not seem like burning issues, but they question how far we should believe in a fictional world.
These issues were stirred up for me once more while watching the latest series of Peep Show, Channel 4’s sitcom about two men whose lives are soundtracked by their internal thoughts, a textbook example of paranoid schizophrenia played for laughs. What struck me was this: in the universe Mark and Jeremy inhabit, do the other characters walk around with a voiceover in their heads?
A strange question to worry about, you might think, but pondering it upturns a whole wheelie bin's worth of existential ramifications. Are we are fundamentally alone and trapped in an internal voice-over, while everybody around us is merely an elaborately-scripted work of fiction? Consider the minor characters in your own life: the ones who waved you through a gate, or fixed your boiler, or bought you a drink. Real person or just flimsily scripted plot device? Could you really credit a soul to them? And if Peep Show is right, does that mean the very essence of existence may boil down to the insecurities of a repressed sociophobe and a wannabe hipster?
Perhaps this is this what Sartre meant by his theory of authentic being. If you're lucky enough to have voices in your head, hang on to them. Without them you might be the existential equivalent of an uncredited cameo.   
                                                                              @dalelately

Saturday, 21 September 2013

10 ways to feel better about destroying planet earth

I
It's a beautiful planet: our challenge is to feel good about ruining it

Start shopping at Fresh and Wild;

Switch to a different energy supplier because they have the word ‘sustainable’ on their website buried three screens down beneath a picture of a rainbow;


Buy some soap that must be good for the environment because it comes from a cool shop;

Change your screensaver to a picture of an ocean;



Toy briefly with the idea of becoming vegetarian;

Allow yourself a sense of lasting moral triumph on the basis that you successfully recycled a single plastic bottle;


Hang a poster on your bedroom door that says "Think Green"; 
  
Watch a nature documentary filled with inspiring pictures of the coral reef;

       
Start reusing leftover peanut butter jars;

Start shopping at boutique craft fairs, buy fussy artisan cheese and have picturesque cloves of onion and garlic hanging in your kitchen like you were living inside a fucking Thomas Hardy novel;

          
Change your screensaver to a picture of a dolphin or something;
         
Learn to enjoy your plasma TV, hot showers, Wi-Fi, short haul flights, phone, fridge-freezer, laptop, cars and hi-fi while telling yourself you’re blameless because you installed a high efficiency lightbulb;
         
Just stop worrying about it.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Congratulations! You are currently 0.0000000000000014% as famous as Justin Bieber

The most popular tweeter in the world is a 19 year old with 43,000,000 followers worldwide, or, to put it another way, four times the size of Belgium. He's the leader of a whole army of smartphone-squeezing addicts whose Tweet-reflexes are so well developed they might as well have their handsets surgically implanted. But unbeknownst to them, Twitter is actually shit, a monumental waste of time that has managed to convince an entire generation to spend hundreds of millions of man-hours a year trying to compress complex arguments into something short enough to write on the side of a stamp. Apart from an absurd terminology borrowed from the bird kingdom (am I the only one who feels faintly ridiculous to declare that I’m ‘tweeting’?) it’s also based on a bankrupt premise: that communication becomes better when its shortened to the point of incomprehensibility. As far as I can see at least half of Twitter posts read a bit like

‘@GomacB91
Wrong! Press =g8 opp 4 self prom. http://bit.ly/jhh3gh #LevEnq!’

What?

            Or:

‘@TwitteryPie
 How massive will L19dr.ly be? Fail! http://www.beta.com/l19dr-ly

What??

            Or:

@2BE_more
GOT, seizoen 2: all GOT fans prep4 new ep! http://bit.ly/1bePFVt

… What? What the fuck are you talking about?    
           It doesn’t help that I am, needless to say, astoundingly unpopular on Twitter – as someone with strong opinions and very few friends, I write tweets that manage to be offensive to everybody and yet interesting to nobody. In fact I must be one of the rare people to actually lose followers by tweeting; the logical conclusion of it is that 95 people are prepared to click on a ‘Follow’ button in order to listen to me not saying anything.
But perhaps the weirdest side of Twitter is the way that in order to keep the whole thing running your account gets DDT-crop-sprayed with shitty, annoying promotions from mega-corporations pretending to be your chum. Take this one that mysteriously appeared in my feed from Virgin:

‏@Virgin
Just popping to the shop - anyone need anything?

Odd, isn’t it? How are you supposed to respond to that?
‘Yes,’ you think. ‘I do need a bit of milk, actually.’ But you know there wouldn’t be any point in saying that, would there? You couldn’t tweet

@dalelately
Yes – I need a bit of milk, actually.
           
Because it wouldn’t do any good, would it? Tweeting that would just land in the inbox of whatever robots Virgin have outsourced their marketing too. ‘@dalelately needs a bit of milk,’ they’d note, crunching the data through some sinister Googlecloud in order to waft a little bit more of the Matrix - as well as 764 paid-for ads for milk - in my direction. 
 Perhaps the worst thing about Twitter is that by using Twitter you become convinced, somehow, of the need to use Twitter. The result is a psychological “T-hole” where every single band, brand, writer, person, asshole, promoter, musician, cat, poet, idiot, businessman, businesswoman, prick, campaigner, journalist, novelist, activist, hacktivist, capitalist, metalist, mentalist and soft drink in the world convinces themselves that unless they tweet updates on their existence at least 417 times a day it will effectively stop.
‘Going to bed now,’ tweets your friend, urgently, as the clock nears midnight. ‘Up early tomorrow.’
Should you tweet back? What will your followers think?
‘Cloudy,’ tweets someone you know, importantly. ‘I think it might rain.’
Should you tweet back? It might rain. Should you tweet that? What if it doesn’t rain? And what will your followers think? What if they don’t like tweets about rain? The problem of course is that everyone is tweeting updates on their existence at least 417 times a day, so that your only option to stay ahead of the attention curve is to start tweeting four thousand times a day. At this point you begin to actually lose sensory awareness of reality because you’re commenting on it so often: your arm becomes a surgical blur assuming the shape of a smartphone, and the only truthful tweet you can send is

@dalelately
Tweeting.

But of course you don’t even manage to send that, because you have to be following all the other 4 thousand tweets everyone else you know is posting, so you know what’s going on, although there’s nothing going on, because everyone is tweeting so much. Okay, it might form the backbone of a few revolutions or something, but basically, that’s Twitter. Shit, isn’t it? Let’s all tweet about that. Hashtag stopfuckingtweetingallthetime. My Twitter’s @dalelately. Follow me. Go on. Please. Follow me. Does anyone need any milk?

@dalelately

Friday, 12 July 2013

It’s probably symbolic of like, colonial repression and stuff

 Painting on the side of a tent  


‘Why’s he painting on the side of a tent?’ I said, pointing at the man who was painting on the side of a tent.
The girl who worked in the art gallery looked up.
‘It’s part of the Manchester International Arts Festival,’ she said. ‘He’s making a comment on, like, the connection between Asian industrialisation and Manchester’s manufacturing past.’
‘Is he?’ I said.
‘Yeah,’ she said. 
A few people wandered around, looked at the man, then looked at the side of the tent he’d painted. 
'How?' I said. 
'How what?' she said. 
'How's he making a comment on the connection between Asian industrialisation and Manchester’s manufacturing past?’
There was a pause.
‘I dunno,' she said. 'It's symbolic.'
'Oh,' I said. Someone took a photo. 'Symbolic of what?'
'What?' she said.
A guy with a camera beside us started filming.
'What's it symbolic of?' I said.
The girl didn't answer. Together, we watched as the man painting the side of the tent stopped painting the side of the tent, yawned, and walked over to a small, shitty mattress.
'It's symbolic of like, colonial repression and stuff,' she said. 
'Oh,' I said. 
The man started going to sleep. Someone took another photo.
'He's a famous artist,' the girl added, as the man began snoring.
'Right,' I said. 
Neither of us could think of anything to say. People started leaving the gallery.
‘Besides,' said the girl, 'to be honest, what else is he going to do?’
I didn't reply. 
Someone took another photo. 

Monday, 10 June 2013

Tour-Isn't


Tour-Isn't
When we were asked whether we wanted to pay £5 to park and enjoy the attractions, we should have either turned the car around or carried on driving off the cliff
-          comment on TripAdvisor web forum regarding the ‘Amusement Park’ at Land’s End, August 2011

Opening the doors of our sewage treatment works allows people to see how multi-million pound sophisticated treatment processes safeguard our bathing water, recreational waters and shell fisheries.
-          James Rider, operations manager of the new ‘Bournemouth Sewage Works’ tour, Dorset (quoted in ‘Crap Days Out: 10 of the worst days out in Britain’, telegraph.co.uk)

I’ve always found it faintly astonishing that there’s a massive tourist economy in Britain. It just feels too rainy and pedestrian. ‘You want to see this?’ I wonder to myself. ‘Really?’ To me they might as well have come to photograph the road works.
There always was a pretty Cornish village or a crumbling pile in Hertfordshire that could make a bit of cash from day-trippers, but that’s nothing to what’s out there these days. If an area’s seen its industry ripped out and factories closed down, goes the thinking, all it needs to do is open a Visitor’s Centre and it’ll be flooded delighted families flocking in to see the room where Victorian children used to get their limbs torn off. Take the brochure for the Great Orme Ancient Mine in coastal Wales – essentially a large hole with ambitions. ‘Stonehenge is certainly a world class monument,’ it generously allows, ‘but now it is joined by the Ancient Mines on the Great Orme.’ Elsewhere the King Edward Mine’s buildings are Listed ‘Grade 11’, meaning they are of ‘national importance’. On this kind of scale I think our bathroom lime scale probably ranks at Grade 15.
Holiday of a lifetime: 
the Bournemouth Sewage Treatment Tour
Scrape the barrel and what you find there half makes you sad, and half makes you shake your head in disbelief. It's not tourism. It's tour-isn’t‘Enjoy a 30 minute tunnel trip,’ said one I’d found for Standedge Tunnel in Yorkshire, ‘while one of our entertaining guides explains all about the geology and history of the tunnel, as well as thrilling you with tales of the folks who designed, built and worked in the tunnel.’ Alternatively you could just drive beneath the Thames at Blackwell for free.
If these are the minimum standards, it occurred to me, there would be nothing to stop an enterprising fellow like myself from setting up my own ‘Garden Shed Experience’.  

Reasons you’d want to visit Dale’s ‘Garden Shed Experience’
-           Full self service buffet, with hot drinks available 
-           New themed ‘history’ feature with a couple of photos blu-tacked to the wall to explain the story of the creation of the garden shed
-           Guided tour down the garden path to the shed, and back up again
-           Unparalleled views of other neighboring garden sheds
-           Interactive ‘media hub’, involving a TV screen, radio, and a couple of old magazines placed in a pile
-           Additional, free access to the shitty clump of weeds in the corner that nobody can be arsed to uproot
-           Fuck all

My own personal favourite was the ‘Hack Green SECRET Nuclear Bunker’ (just off the A530 Whitchurch Road) which is so secret and undercover that its GPS reference and opening times were openly displayed on the back of the leaflet. The leaflet – a remarkable work of spin managing to rebrand what is essentially a radioactive hole in the ground as a multi-function adventure playground – was a sort of public relations stunt worthy of MI6. ‘Younger children can have bundles of fun as secret agents following the ‘Soviet Spy Mouse Trail!’ it boasted. ‘The only thing missing from the experience is the radiation sickness and a slow lingering death.’ From the sound of it they were doing their best to make up for that.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

How to make yourself feel better about destroying the planet!

F**k it up and still feel good! 
  •          Buy a ‘Bag for Life’;
  •          Switch off a radiator;
  •          Buy some soap that must be good for the environment because it comes from a cool shop;
  •          If you’re Barack Obama, convince the populations of fragile, environmentally protected regions that what will really help is to plough a three hundred foot drill into the earth;
  •          Toy briefly with the idea of becoming vegetarian;
  •          If your company name has the word ‘Petroleum’ and 'British' in it, change the word ‘British’ to ‘Beyond’, because after all, people probably won't think about it very much;
  •          Decide that you haven’t the energy to become vegetarian, but you will start buying Free Range eggs;
  •          Switch to a different energy supplier because they have the word ‘sustainable’ on their website buried three screens down beneath a picture of a rainbow;
  •          If you’re a multinational oil company, redesign your website with a green colour scheme and lots of words like ‘green’ and so many references to things like ‘green’ energy that anyone would assume you were a start-up developing ‘green’ solar panels rather than a corporate behemoth shitting millions of barrels of oil into the gulf of Mexico;
  •          Start recycling;
  •          Move to a villagey type place filled with cottage industries who massage the guilt of middle class professionals by selling them artisan food and home-made crafts and allow them to indulge in the fantasy that they're living inside a fucking Thomas Hardy novel;
  •         Try to reuse peanut butter jars;
  •          If you’re David Cameron or George Osborn, ignore the criticism of what the Coalition has so far done to reduce carbon emissions (nothing, basically) or promote a move from nuclear to renewable energy (nothing, basically) or improve infrastructure for cyclists (nothing, basically) or nurture the green economy (nothing, basically) or sustain grants for people to insulate their homes (nothing, basically) or not decide to sell off large tracts of Britain’s forests (nothing, basically) or curb unnecessary car use or short haul flights (nothing, basically) or try to live up to the promise you once made to be the ‘greenest government ever’ – nothing, basically – as you cheerfully help us all to commit species suicide because it’s good for the economy;
  •          Watch a David Attenborough documentary about the ocean;
  •          Learn to enjoy your plasma TV, hot showers, Wi-Fi, short haul flights, phone, fridge, laptop, cars, hi-fi, and all the other million things that make massive demands on the earth’s exhausted resources and generally hasten the onset of eco-geddon while telling yourself you’re blameless because you installed a high efficiency lightbulb;
  •          Just learn to stop worrying about it.

Monday, 1 April 2013

How to land a job in the media with the least resort to sexual favours!


Media "networking"
 Here are the options available to the graduate seeking a role in the TV industry:

a) go to school with the producer;

b) go to school with the producer;

c) go to bed with the producer;

d) go to school and bed with the producer;

e) come from a family where your dad went to school with the producer;

f) come from a family where your mum went to school with the producer;

g) come from a family where your mum and dad both went to school or bed with the producer and his girlfriend, at different times;

h) mortgage your time, energy, youth and self respect ‘volunteering’ your services for virtual slave-labour photocopying, coffee making and surface wiping while your privileged shitbag employers treat you with the kind of respect a dog shows towards a lamp-post while all the time acting like you should be grateful for the privilege;

i) tell yourself you’re working on a “screenplay”;

j) print a flimsy business card with your number and email at the bottom and the words "Independent Producer" beside your name in a stylish font at the top; 

k) do an M.A. in Media Studies or something; 

l) start a Microsoft Word document entitled “Screenplay” which you stare at blankly in the few precious hours of your free time until the blood begins to seep from your eyeballs; 

m) cry; 

n) pay £25 to go to an unbelievably shitty media “networking” conference where every other person there is an opportunity-starved media graduate exactly like you;  

o) go to bed with the producer;

p) go to bed with the producer.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Things that make me think Armageddon might not be a bad idea


 Gregg’s cheese and onion pasties
A volcanic hunk of gristle that tastes like a brick of processed cheese fed through a chemical sludge pipe and inevitably burns the top of your mouth off, which means you end up gingerly teasing little bits of it into your gob like you were a porn-star trying to arouse the viewer with the sight of you eating a big fat turd made out of grease.

Constant and pointless reminders that the podcast is on a website, when you’ve just downloaded it from that website
‘You can find this and other podcasts on the BBC website,’ the voice tells you. ‘Just go to bbc.co.uk.’
          I know. How the fuck else do you think I got this shitting podcast? Why do you have to keep telling me, you pricks?
David Cameron’s “green” credentials
“I want this to be the greenest government ever,” David Cameron once said - a guy who spent the five years before being ‘elected’ (or, if we want to nitpick, ‘not being elected’) running around with a rhetorical watering-can trying to make the Tories look caring.
         Here are just some of the resounding achievements of Cameron’s leadership in the environmental sphere:

  •        In 2006 David flew to the Arctic in order to take a photo of himself with a wolf 
  •        Since getting elected he’s made some really passionate speeches about green issues
  •        Maybe it wasn’t a wolf, actually, but a husky
  •        Sometimes the podium in his press conferences is a bit green
  •         Something with ears and a snout, anyway. Yes. Probably a husky  
  •        He did his best for sustainability by trying not to choose to sell off large tracts of Britain's forests, but failed 
  •        His team of cleaners and housekeepers only use green cleaning products
  •        His 320 hectare lawn’s quite green

The shitty doors on Virgin Trains
Which never open when you want, meaning that you have to punch your way through the entire train as if you had anger management issues and were only taking the sodding train because you liked beating up small electronic buttons.

Julian Lennon
In the plaza of the new yuppiedrome ‘Liverpool One’ complex, a bit of sculpted public art bears an inscription quoting the son of the famous Beatle. ‘Dad once said to me that should he pass away,’ it says, ‘if there was some way of letting me know he was going to be okay… The message would come to me in the form of a white feather.’
          ‘Then… When I was on tour in Australia,’ it continues, ‘I was presented with a white feather by an Aboriginal tribal elder.’
So there you are: the mystical insights of the oldest continuous civilization on earth are utilized to speak to a poshboy millionaire touring his shitty vanity project around a desert.