Thursday, May 26, 2005

Football, Philosophy and Underage Sex

How one's heart sinks when a major football match is shown on ITV, as last night's European Championship Final was. Not content with commercial breaks before the match and at half-time, they squeezed in more during the opening ceremony and a load more between the final whistle and the start of extra time, the latter being a dreadful intrusion on the drama of this extraordinary match.

Then there's the fact that ITV football is fronted by a woman which seems a crime against the natural order of things. Maybe it's partly that this particular woman doesn't do it very well and is only able to talk in the most superficial generalities about the football itself. Last night she even managed to say that the match was being played in Milan before quickly correcting herself. There was an odd exchange were Terry Venables said how handsome one of the Milan players had been as a young man and the anchor woman giggled and said that in her view he still was. Somehow I can't imagine a similar exchange between Gary Lineker and Alan Hansen over on the BBC.

Sexist? Moi? No, I just think that the ideal presenter for television football is someone like Gary Lineker who has played football at the highest level and can chair a discussion with expertise and humour. If that rules out women football presenters, tough. Life's a bitch, ladies. Get over it. There are still a few lifestyle programmes left for you that haven't been taken over by the monstrous regiment of television queer guys.


My God, Melvyn Bragg was in a tetchy mood this morning on In Our Time on Radio 4. Bears with sore heads are fluffy bundles of bonhomie in comparison.
In Our Time is the most uncompromisingly intellectual programme on Radio 4, in which Melv chairs a discussion on scientific, philosophical and historical ideas with a bunch of academics. It's like a university tutorial conducted not by the Professor but by a stroppy student.
This morning it was the French Revolution and Melvyn got very annoyed with an American historian. "Far too much detail!", he yelled at her, "we've got to do this my way or it's not going to work."
I felt quite sorry for the woman until she used the hideous word 'problematize'. Sadly, Melvyn let this pass without putting her over his knee and spanking her.

I doubt that any other speech radio station would ever broadcast such a programme and one has to commend the Beeb for that. But I've never learned anything from it that I couldn't have discovered in more succint and understandable terms from twenty minutes' Googling.
The programme's now running a poll to find people's favourite philosopher. I was pleased to find Bertrand Russell, one of my teenage heroes, among the suggestions. He wrote many books of 'popular philosophy' which are easy to sneer at but anyone who could make philosophy interesting to a 14 year old boy gets my vote.
I'm reminded of the time that Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge interviewed a contemporary French philosopher. The Frenchman challenged Alan Partridge to name a modern philosopher. There was a very long pause before Partridge said triumphantly 'Peter Ustinov.'

Priscilla Presley is all over the airwaves at the moment, promoting a book or film or something about her early life with Elvis.
I heard her say yesterday that when their relationship began she was 14 and Elvis was 24. That's not so unusual in the history of rock and roll.
Jerry Lee Lewis married his underage cousin.
Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones began his relationship with Mandy Smith when she was just 13.
Then there are all the stories of rock stars' liaisons with legions of underage groupies.
'It goes with the territory' seems to be the attitude.

But is there a whiff of double standards here? Today many people are prosecuted for underage sex that occurred thirty or more years ago as a result of a combination of police trawling operations and the compensation culture. Perhaps if they were famous singers they would just be described as having had colourful and unconventional sex lives.
Then, of course, there are the allegations against Michael Jackson and, in Britain, the conviction and jailing of Jonathan King. These last two cases raise the question of whether even people in the pop industry are judged differently if the objects of their affections are boys rather than girls.
Two British pop stars who did fall foul of the law were Gary Glitter and Pete Townsend. In both these cases it was for looking at pornography rather than actually having underage sex.
Of course, it may be that Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Bill Wyman didn't have sex with their underage partners until they reached the age of consent. Or if the three of them had lived in Spain it wouldn't have been a problem because there the age of consent is 12.
It's all very confusing. Anything to do with sex usually is. Doubly so when celebrity is involved.


At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Peter said...

Priscilla Presley's main fault is that she's so boring. Or maybe Jonathan Ross overwhelmed her too much. About the age fourteen thing she stressed her parents insisted on meeting Elvis, as her dad thought he had a bad reputation. He charmed them, she said. Well, he would, wouldn't he?

I agree there seems a double standard in the male/female thing with these vinyl paedophiles. Did the Wyman/Smith "friendship" happen in Britain?

At 12:20 PM, Anonymous robin said...

I loved In Our Time this morning. Melv was indeed grumpy and momentarily lost that smooth arts presenter poise that he does so well. I also liked the fact that the academics disagreed. It's almost impossible to interpret the French Revolution without bringing one's own baggage and this lot were no exception.

I think it's a bit harsh to say that you could get all of that (or most weeks) from a bit of googling, although it is necessarily a litlte superficial at times. I've heard some belting good stuff about things I didn't really have a map for.

Anyway, I think your observation that it is like a tutorial conducted by a stroppy student is both very subtle and very funny.

At 2:50 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Peter, I'm sure the answer to your question is 'yes'. Mandy Smith is certainly British.
Love the phrase 'vinyl paedophiles'.

Robin, yes, I was a little harsh but my complaint is not about superficiality but that often the guests go straight into incomprehensible detail, especially when the subject is physics or cosmology. In contrast there are people like Marcus Chown who write books on these subjects that even I can understand (well, mostly).
Although I joked about the format, I think that's part of the problem - i.e. Melvyn. Someone like Andrew Marr would do it far better.

At 8:50 AM, Anonymous Peter said...

Hmmm. So in theory (or even practice), Smith just has to nip down the local cop shop, say one sentence and that's him Donald Ducked. Interesting piece of power.

At 9:33 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Yes, and it gets more interesting. I believe that the law has been changed so that sex with a 13 year old, even if it's consensual and the victim doesn't complain and the adult thought she was older, is automatically treated as rape which carries a life sentence.
Of course the problem in all such cases is proving that sex occurred if there's no corroborating evidence.


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