Waking up Tom Greeves.

My good friend Tom Greeves just posted this…


and I’ve decided that as much as I love him, it’s probably time to give him that friendly slap across the jowels and wake him to some semblance of reality. He’s a brilliant chap but he suffers from that same clouding of judgement that most Tory’s possess. The list of things he hates and why he hates them give a wonderful dichotomy of the Tory mind at work. So let’s see if we can’t get in there and make a little difference, eh?

Rap music. It is invariably dreadful. So is hip-hop and R & B. And by the way, you’re not a musician if you’re just a DJ.

As in so much poor criticism, Tom mistakes his tastes for a generalised truth. I actually share his general dislike for rap and hip hop – it isn’t really to my taste – but I can fully acknowledge the brilliance of a lot of it. Public Enemy and Run DMC are undeniably amazing and, love him or loathe him, Eminem is masterful. I detest ‘rap culture’ – the mysogony, violence, desperate worship of symbols of wealth. It’s lazy crude and quite ridiculous to me but I appreciate where it has come from – which is the continued suppressions and disenfranchisement of an entire race by the white right wing. What they’re doing is supposed to be distasteful and confrontational and scary to those who would rather these people be silenced. At it’s best, rap is poetry, expression and promotion of it’s own philosophy and experience. Up until fairly recent times, literacy and self-expression have been the luxury of the educated, rap can be a pure, honest, skillfull AND musically thrilling insight into a social underclass. I think that’s brilliant – whethr I enjoy listening to it or not.

As for DJ’s, Tom is probably thinking of Noel Edmonds or Dave Lee Travis. Again, most dance music is not to my taste but I think guys like DJ Shadow who create unbelievably good music from samples, loops and beats are probably far greater musicians than many of the three-chord riff purveyors who trouble our charts.

Sketch comedy. With a few notable exceptions (Fry & Laurie, Mitchell and Webb and some of the stuff I’ve seen some Oxford Imps do), sketch is the worst of the comedy forms. If an idea or a character is worth exploring, it deserves a sitcom or a movie. Sketch shows typically rely on fleeting ideas that don’t have that durability, and feature the endless repetition of catchphrases and scenarios. Remarkably, a large proportion of the country delight in this idiocy.
Oh, and by the way, not only should you not quote Monty Python, you shouldn’t like it. It’s crap. All surreal comedy is.

Again, I don’t mind generalisations if they’re used comedically but you know… A lot of sketch comedy is abhorrent. I totally agree with that. But anyone who has seen Graham Linehan’s Big Train will attest that sketch comedy can be so much funnier and less tiresome than your average sitcom. Isn’t it better to explore and despatch an idea in 3 minutes than drag it out over 10 years? I recently bought the Fast Show box set which was a post-modern response to Whitehouse and Higson’s tenure on the lamentable Harry Enfield’s comedy swill shows. It’s hard to make it 5 minutes in that show without belly laughing or just applauding their general skill.

As for Monty Python, I’m kind of bored of defending them. Yes, their work is dated. Yes, much of the original series was hit-and-miss. The point is that they opened comedy up. They cracked the mainstream to be open to something other than vaudeville and gentle good humour. They were odd, challenging and artistic. If all surreal comedy is crap then I feel very sorry that Tom will never know the joys of Reeves & Mortimer who continue to bring me incomparable joy.

Left wing politics. Every left winger is a grotesque hypocrite. No exceptions. It is natural for man to seek the best life possible for himself and his loved ones. Anyone who denies this fundamental truth is evil.

Again, if there were some comedy in this, I’d totally let it pass but this is just bile and bullshit. ‘No exceptions’. That is the equivalent of saying every Tory is a frightened bigot – no exceptions. Which I would say myself, but will resist saying until I have met every single one of them and am comfortable making such an insane generalisation.

Yes Tom, it is natural for man to seek the best life possible for himself and his loved ones.  But does the concept of human nature justify the indulgence of it? To me, that statement is a pathetic justification of the worst excesses of humanity. I’m sure Rupert Murdoch is just seeking the best life possible for himself and his loved ones – does that mean he should be excused for or allowed to attempt to destroy the integrity and purpose of journalism? Hitler was just trying to seek the best life possible, wasn’t he? That kind of excusing monsterous behaviour is detestable, it is the root cause of slavery, suppression, the destruction of natural resources, culture, society and every kind of negative ‘ism’ out there. The only chance to have a genuine ‘best’ life is to create an enlightened and fair society. Is that possible? Not right now, no, it’s a progression. We’re only about thirty years away from abolishing the death sentence in this country, it’ll be a slow crawl out of the primordial soup from cavemen killing each other on whims to constructing a society where everyone is included, valued and content.

It’s an easy and pathetic trick the right-wing uses to say ‘if Al Gore cares so much, why does he fly?’ Well, at least when he flies it’s because he’s on his way somewhere to spread education and a positive message – a far worthier carbon footprint than many of his fellow ‘big house dwellers’. I think it’s akin to saying ‘well, if you’re so anti-immigration, why do you allow foreigners to clean your house/collect your rubbish/cook in your restaurants?’ The right wing are FAR less likely to act on their beliefs than the left. They just enjoy espousing them.

I’ve always found that the right wing is built entirely on fear – on preservation and protection. It is inhabited by people who are comfortable or see themselves as comfortable desperately protecting what they have (be it their wealth, country, privelidge) regardless as to who pays the price for their comfort. The industrialists who make their money from sweat-shop produced items, the catering magnates who poison their customers and encourage unhealthy eating on a global basis, the property tycoons who create a false economy which destroys independent business and leaves normal people homeless. It’s bollocks. It’s completely unfair. That is not me advocating communism, I’m just pointing out there is a difference between providing a good life for your family and indulging in a lifestyle that is detrimental to other people’s families.

I don’t deny the truth that it is natural for man to seek the best life possible for himself and his loved ones. I don’t think any left-winger would EVER deny that. We just think there are ways of doing that without being a total cunt.

Musicians who pontificate on politics. They are, as a rule, simply not well enough equipped intellectually to do so interestingly. (Frank Turner is an admirable exception.) And although this is not an original observation, it is worth reminding ourselves that Bono could do a lot more good by giving almost all his money away to development projects than he does by spouting bullshit. The fact that he hasn’t inhibited his lavish lifestyle in any way is proof that he doesn’t really care about this stuff.
(Likewise Al Gore would downsize to a smaller home and stop taking private jets if he gave a damn about climate change.)

As far as Bono is concerned, I agree completely. But I think music as a form of political expression or protest is a valid and beautiful thing. It’s just when mediocre twats like Bono and Chris Martin who don’t actual use their music to convey their ‘beliefs’ that it is unpalatable.

Golf. Come on, be serious. It is an immensely dull sport. The fact that golf clubs are massively reactionary doesn’t make up for that.

I have no opinion on golf.

Art. I can’t connect to any form of fine art apart from cartoons and photographs.

Then I feel very, very, very sorry for you. At least you have Scooby Doo, I suppose.

American stand-up. Steven Wright is great. So was Mitch Hedberg. But most famous American stand-ups aren’t funny. In fairness, neither are most famous English stand-ups. But American audiences often react in a really weird way – applauding comics instead of laughing at them. It’s a dull response to a dull phenomenon. Comedy is nothing if it’s not funny.
Conversely, if you want to see a room full of shrieking halfwits, watch Def Comedy Jam.
And if you think you can learn about politics from a comedian (who isn’t me) then you are a moron.

If you think you can teach politics, you’re the moron Greevesy. Lenny Bruce. LENNY BRUCE. He didn’t just teach politics through his comedy, he CHANGED THEM. To a lesser extent, Bill Hicks. Even Mark Thomas and Michael Moore (whose methods I don’t like – although they’re no worse than the right wing he is combatting). Comedy and especially satire are probably some of the strongest forms of educating about politics. I agree that there is something not great generally about American stand-up, though.

The Beatles. I don’t mean the music. I mean the people. I also hate Elvis. They are / were all monsters. But God Bless Bob Dylan for teaming up with Starbucks, and thus showing all the old hippies that everyone’s a capitalist at heart.

That’s a new one on me. Hating the Beatles non-musically. Why are/were they all monsters exactly? It’s funny how lefties save the term ‘monster’ for mass-murderers but you’re comfortable applying it to musicians who were advocates for peace, love and vegetarianism. Those BASTARDS! Dylan’s Starbucks coup was a shame.

Cars. When I learn to drive, I want the safest car I can afford. I’m not remotely interested in anything else (least of all its environmental impact).

I’ll go easy on you as a non-driver but, um, all cars have to be safe. Although, I suppose the Tory ideal of a safe car is a tank that could run all over any stray immigrants. All cars have to pass stringent saftey tests. If you’re inferring that electric cars are any less safe than a combustion enigne and 10 gallons of petrol…. then you’re nuts.

Fair trade food. Don’t kid yourself. Fair trade chocolate isn’t nearly as nice as the stuff that’s loaded with sugar. And the Co-op’s food is terrible. Nor is it sustainable to pay farmers over the odds for their products. What we all need is genuine, worldwide free trade.

I think you might have missed the point of fair trade here, mate. It isn’t to pay farmers OVER the odds. It is to pay them a fair wage. The ‘odds’ are set by multinational corporations who for sake of providing the best lives possible for their obscenely rich shareholders and those their obscenely rich shareholders love, impose an unfair economy on the farmers who are often lucky to break even on their running expenses. The point of fair trade is to say just because a country is stricken with poverty, maybe capitalising on their misfortune isn’t the right thing to do when we can afford to pay them fairly and the consumer doesn’t mind paying a few pence more knowing that they aren’t contributing to keeping communities in misery.

As for fair trade chocolate not being as ‘nice’, that’s probably because your Tory tastebuds are used to the cheap and nasty chemicals, flavouring and needless amount of sugar that goes with ‘free trade’ commercial processed food.

Tom still hasn’t responded to my blog a while ago about the realities of free trade and I assume that is because he can’t. Free trade actually has become a monster. Everything that we have lost on this planet has been in the name of greed and lining somebody’s pocket. Free trade is now reaching it’s obvious end result – a few corporations which are destroying or assimilating all competition and becoming more powerful than governments. Hooray for free trade.

Skiing. Would you be very shocked to learn that I don’t wish to risk life and limb by throwing myself down a mountain?

I have no opinion on skiing.

Camping. Sleeping in a tent, eating tepid beans, wallowing in the mud and sharing a lavatory with fifty other people is what you do if you’re poor. It’s not a way to spend a holiday.

Some people like to actually be in nature rather than see it in a cartoon or photograph. I can respect that.

That is all. My work is done. Let us see if Tom chooses to respond – and if he does, how? Will it be the typical Tory patronising response (‘Bless’), could it be the comic swagger of writing my views  off as ‘liberal’, ‘hippy’ or ‘commie’. Or will he have the balls to either engage intelligently with what I’ve said and offer a coherent counter-argument or admit I might have a point?


Published in: on September 23, 2009 at 1:54 pm  Comments (8)  

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  1. Hi Jon,

    It’s pretty smug to assume that someone can’t answer you if they choose not to. I felt the previous debate that we were having on free trade was going round in circles and was fairly pointless. However, I share some of your concerns about what’s happening to small towns and even cities, and the truth is that I am mulling the issues over in my head.

    Life is too short to get into endless debate about everything that one writes, but perhaps it might be helpful if I point out that I KNOW what I wrote was hyperbolic and – in the case of things like golf and camping – prejudiced.

    However, here are a few thoughts (although I don’t intend to make this a lengthy debate).

    You seem to be obsessed with my being a Tory, as if that suffuses everything I do and everything I think. I accept that I made a sweeping statement about left wing people, but that was in a political context. And I stand by it – the way the left (by which I mean everyone who wants to suppress individual rights in favour of some nebulous greater good) behavges is loathsome. For the record, I don’t consider you a leftie.

    Another general observation I would make is that it’s a bit rich to accuse someone of sloppiness in an article littered with grammatical and spelling errors.

    In terms of the individual issues:


    I don’t know what you mean by the white right wing. I’m white and right wing, and I haven’t suppressed anybody.

    I accept that it was hyperbolic to give the impression that I’ve listened to lots of rap (I repeat, my post was knowingly excessively strident), but I think everyone you’ve mentioned is dreadful.

    Sketch comedy

    I made it perfectly clear that I like some sketch comedy. But this stuff is largely subjective anyway. I’m surprised you find Reeves and Mortimer funny, but whatever.

    Left wingery

    Intimating that I in any way support Hitler (who for the record, said that his politics were indistinguishable from Marxism) isn’t just pathetic, it’s offensive.

    Of course I don’t think everyone who calls themselves a leftie is evil, and that passage of my post was inelegant. But every single one I have met has been a hypocrite, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to extrapolate. To use your absurd analogy, you don’t need to meet every neo-Nazi to makie assumptions based on experience about them, do you?


    I agree that my failure to engage with art is sad. I’m not boasting about it, or saying others should be the same. It was just a statement of fact.

    The Beatles

    They weren’t about peace and love. Hitting women isn’t peaceful. The way Elvis treated women is also appalling.


    Again, your implication that I want to drive over immigrants is very offensive.

    Fair trade

    Hiking up prices isn’t going to work in the long-term. Giving Africa and Asia access to our markets is.

    That’s all I can be bothered to write.

  2. Apologies for the typos in my last post – at least you can accuse me of hypocrisy!

  3. That’s a disappointingly weak response, man.

    1. Our debate on free trade never went round in circles as you never actually offered your defence of it.

    2. I think your view of ‘the left’ is a bit odd. If anything I’ve found they fight for the right of the individual as much as the greater good. They’re just less concerned with the welfare of the individual who is already wealthy.

    3. I didn’t accuse you of ‘sloppiness’. If you’re concentrating on my typos, you’re missing my point.

    4. You need to learn the difference between good and bad and what you like and don’t like. It’ll make you sound less dumb.

    5. To be upset that someone intimated you supported Hitler (which I didn’t) is ludicrous. But an effective avoidance of the actual point I was making. Congratulations, Mein Fuhrer.. I mean… my friend.

    6. I was previously unaware of the ‘bitchslapping’ evenings The Beatles hosted aboard their Yellow Submarine. Thank you for enlightening me. (Really? They all hit women???)

    7. (re: cars) Again, your umbrage skillfully avoids the need to actually debate the issue. Poor wittle Tommykins.

    8. The free trade bit at the end is the only subject you actually acknowledged and presented what passed for intelligent commentary on. Please elaborate.

    I guess right up there on my list of hates is when people are prepared to publically state their views but not prepared to discuss or defend them. Come on TOM!!!!!

  4. No, I don’t think so.

    Jumping up and down in a huff isn’t going to get it done. I’ve said all I want to say about this.

  5. Wow – commenting here feels like butting in one someone’s private political rant in the corner of a house party! But nevertheless..

    For what it’s worth I *broadly* agree with Jon, but think this is all being taken a bit seriously from what seems to have set out to be a provocatively offensive blog post. While it seems pointless to pick apart Tom’s points one by one, the bit that bugs me is that he’d want to write something so deliberately offensive and negatively misleading about his own tastes and opinions. It seems calculated to endear him to idiots, and do nothing else..

    But if we’re making ourselves unpopular I’ll join in as the sole defendant of Bono. A two-second google search turned up this:
    which (if it’s true) indicates a large amount of time, effort and money donated directly to a number of good causes about which I have no doubt he actually cares about. Not that I have a particular love of Bono, but I do find it a bit silly when people like you try to write off charity work which will have made more of a practical difference than you or I could make in a lifetime, based on a gut feeling which comes from finding him personally irritating.

    But basically, it seems you’re both fond of pretty crass generalisations, and this is what happens when they smash together…

  6. I’ve thought about your comment a lot Wilden, and I think decency demands I concede that what I wrote was very silly.

    For the record, I wasn’t trying to be offensive, rather provocative, not least as my blog can be somewhat anodyne.

    But I got the balance wrong – and Jon (and you) were right to call me on it.

    Mea culpa and all that.

  7. Totally sympathise with this. One need only compare a current example of Horizon to one made 20 years ago. The modern version barely scratches the surface of a given subject, presents a simplistic and sensationalised script, is over-reliant on visual effects and insists on the constant recapping of very basic information.

    One suspects an in-depth study like Jacob Bronowski’s “The Ascent Of Man” wouldn’t make it past the treatment stage today.

    There are chinks of light amidst the darkness, however. Jonathan Meades’ latest series, “Off Kilter”, was genuinely brilliant.

  8. Ooops! The above comment was meant for your “Boxing Idiots” post. Sorry about that!

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