Tuesday, 20 September 2011

19 September 2011. Letter 31

Dear Mark and Sue

Re: 08.06 FGW service from Oxford to Paddington, 19/9/11. Amount of my day wasted: nine minutes.

Good morning Mark - it's time to rise and shine! Good morning Sue - we've slept the whole night through!

How are you both today? Sue: no need to ask you how you're doing... you're away from the office! You're on your jollydays! Even as I write you're doubtless pumped full of pina colada, hammering out the karaoke classics in some thoroughly non-ironic theme pub on the run-down edge of Sharm El Sheikh. Good on yer, Sue! Don't let the cliches grind you down! You're on shore leave, Sue! East side, west side, rouse that city!

Mark: is it lonely in the office without her? I know, I know. The nights grow cold. But absence makes the heart grow fonder, familiarity breeds contempt, and every rose, as Bret Michaels of hair-metallers Poison (not a good band, Mark, when all's said and done) so uncharacteristically emoted, has its thorn. Just like every night has its dawn. Just like every cowboy sings a sad, sad song. (That's every cowboy, Mark. Every single one of 'em, singing sad songs. Even John Wayne. Even Clint Eastwood. Even Lee Van Cleef. Even Steve McQueen in the Magnificent Seven. And what a barbershop quartet they'd make, eh?)

To wit: she'll be back. Like the Terminator, Mark, Sue will be back to help out with all that silent and seemingly-anonymous communicating she does so well. Don't worry.

In the meantime, it's just you and me, kid. And today I'm after nine minutes of your time, to make up for the nine minutes of mine you wasted yesterday.

So: what would you like to talk about this grey day, Mark? Seeing as it's just us lads, just us boys together. How shall we shoot the breeze? How are we gonna chew the fat? Shall we talk birds, booze, ball games? (No... too stereotypical. What are we Mark? Neanderthals?) Shall I tell you some more about the Great 21st Century Novel I'm so close to getting round to thinking about starting to write? (Hmmm... maybe not. I'm too wary of you stealing the idea and becoming a literary sensation yourself, if i'm honest. No offence, like). Shall I entertain you with colourful tales from my misspent youth? (Best I don't: they may be too much at this hour. Caligula, Mark, would have blushed!)

Shall I expand a little on my Grand Unifying Theory of Children's Film & Television? Why not! Get your jotter out, son, you might want to take notes.

So then, if, as we established yesterday, Thomas the Tank Engine is an allegory of Karl Marx's theories on capitalist suppression of the working classes... then it stands to reason that the whole of the rest of children's entertainment must follow suit, one way or another. Right? Right.

So where would you like to start? Would you like me to tell you how Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men were a thinly disguised metaphor for the Suez Crisis? Or how Bagpuss was about Thatcher's smashing of the Trade Unions? (Clue: Professor Yaffle is Norman Tebbit.)

Are you interested in the influence of Islamist propoganda in the making of In The Night Garden? Or how Morph from Take Hart was a symbol of the fallout of the sexual revolution of the 60s and early 70s and subsequent Aids paranoia? (Where are his rude bits, Mark? Where? I've watched every episode on freeze frame looking for Morph's rude bits... and I just can't find them.)

How about Star Wars? That whole series (all six films, Mark, but in order for this to work you've got to look at the films in the order in which they were made, rather than the timeframe in which they were set) is about American post-war xenophobia. Did you know that? The first three films see the Evil Empire evolve from Nazis to Communists (the uniforms, dude! The Death Star!) - and then in the subsequent three movies all the bad guys seem suddenly awfully Far Eastern. When they're not thinly-disguised Japanese Samurai, they're distinctly Chinese-like "clones", replicating in their millions, swamping the universe. It's a racist pair of trilogies, Mark, let's not pretend otherwise.

But at least it's not the Lion King. The Lion King, Mark! Why, the Lion King is all about the beauty and magnificence and divine right-ness of Capitalism! It's the Circle of Life, baby! The little animals are eaten by the big animals, who in turn are eaten by the bigger animals. And, according to the Lion King, that's the way it should be. Eat and be eaten, Mark, it's the circle of life! Elton John told us so, Mark, he sang an Oscar-winning song about it!

Or maybe I won't tell you about these things at all. Would you really be interested?

What's that you say, Mark? You would? Well that's no good, is it? I'm not doing this to interest you! What the devil gave you that idea?

Au revoir!


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