Showbusiness for Ugly People (and that means all of us)


When I was a little boy, my mum said she and my big brother and sister were going boating and would I like to come along? I was very keen. “I want to go boating!”

“No,” my mum said. “Boating.”

“That’s what I said! I love boating!”

We went out, but then we went into a church and my mum went into a booth and then came out and then we went home.

“I thought we were going boating?”

“Not boating,” my mum said. “Boating.”

My experiences of general elections have been disappointing for the most part ever since.

In 1989 I met the actor Dudley Sutton (THE DEVILS, FELLINI CASANOVA) who had come to Scotland to do a film I was making, THE THREE HUNCHBACKS.

“I’m delighted to be back in The People’s Republic of Scotland,” he said. “Because up here, not only do you SAY you don’t vote for her, you DON’T vote for her.”

This was the thing — people voted Tory for selfish reasons and were ashamed to admit it. So all the polls would suggest that the Conservatives were doing worse than they actually were. The British public can be pretty awful. They have just voted for welfare cuts, food banks, austerity…

As Oliver Reed says in RETURN OF THE MUSKETEERS, “The British people will stand for anything except the mistreatment of pack animals or an increase in the price of ale.”

As Bernard Hill says in SQUARING THE CIRCLE, “We are not a poor country. We are badly managed.”


10 Responses to “Showbusiness for Ugly People (and that means all of us)”

  1. The people that voted for the tories are same people that voted for them last go around too. It was the *lack* of support for Labour and their uninspiring neoliberal policies that stopped Miliband from getting in.

  2. Blair had similar wishy-washy “policies” but he certainly presented them with conviction. The fact that he’s somewhat insane probably helped there. Miliband sometimes looks a bit demented but he doesn’t do fervour, or much of anything else, with panache.

  3. DBenson Says:

    Your Musketeers line (by George Macdonald Fraser?) recalls a print cartoon by animator Bill Plympton:

    A homeless man with a mangy dog sits on the sidewalk with a sign reading “HUNGRY”. There are a few coins around his tin cup.

    In the next panel, he has set the sign in front of the dog and the cup is nearly buried in paper currency.

    Beyond the message, that hit me because it did in two drawings what I’d been trying to develop into a preachy screenplay.

  4. henryholland666 Says:

    Saw a great movie the other night, “Yesterday’s Enemy” with Stanley Baker (woof!) and a cast of dozens, set in Burma during WWII. At one point, Baker’s Cpt. Langford is being grilled by Philip Ahn’s English-speaking Yamazaki. Langford starts protesting the treatment of two civilians and invokes the Geneva Convention.

    Yamazaki says something along the lines of “When you British were using guns and fighting people who only had spears, like the Zulus, you didn’t care about that sort of thing. Now that others are as strong as you, like us Japanese, you hide behind the Geneva Convention”.


  5. Val Guest, yes? I like his work with Baker, particularly Hell is a City.

  6. henryholland666 Says:

    Yes, directed by Val Guest, it was shot completely in a studio, in a few weeks, on a budget of about £1.75 or so. It’s a great bit of work, top-notch writing, acting, cinematography and direction. It’s also nice to not have an ending where the Brits end up Triumphing Against All Odds Because Of Their Plucky Spirit, By Jove.

    One problem for me was every time they mentioned Burma, I flashed on Mrs. Premise and Mrs. Conclusion in the great Monty Python sketch “Penguin on a television set”. I panicked.

  7. Ha!

    I find it impossible to be objective about Burma.

  8. Buttermilk Sky Says:

    In the NYC neighborhood where I worked, there was an elderly couple who lived in a doorway with their dog. One day a city agency came and took the dog to a shelter. The couple were left behind. So yes, Plymptom was right.

  9. Christ. It’s way beyond satire, isn’t it?

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