July 17th, 2011

breaking bad

Become monstrous

The most famous episode of the BBC series Colditz is about a man who fakes insanity, for escape purposes, but by constantly faking disordered speech and behaviour, he eventually becomes insane for real.

I think a similar thing is happening in the West at the moment. In the 1980s the right wing administrations - and the two I know most about are Reagan's and Thatcher's - put out some half-baked propaganda about economics, which really didn't make sense. For example Reagan famously attributed America's economic ills to 'welfare queens' - young black single mothers who were supposedly draining the economy. This story, and the wider narrative about government spending, gained a lot of popular traction. However Reagan's economic programme (steered by cleverer men than him) was not based on this narrative. It was based on running up international debts, backed up by Military pre-eminence. Similarly Thatcher had some narrative blaming the working class, but her actual programme was to fund tax cuts through sell-offs and the deployment of North Sea oil revenue, and deregulate the financial sector. In both the US and the UK the economic strategy was bound to crash eventually (and both now have) but they were functioning strategies, based on the real world.

But something seems to have happened lately. I am not sure whether it's because the right wing parties are now run by people who grew up under the fake narratives of Reagan and Thatcher and somehow believed them, or whether people have been driven insane like the guy in Colditz by faking insane narratives.
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breaking bad

Alternative Endings to an Unwritten Ballad

My poetry group is doing an evening of 'funny poems' soon. I've been wondering what to read out, and I've got a few in mind.

The following poem was written by Paul Dehn, who was an English screenwriter. He wrote the screenplay for Murder on the Orient Express, Goldfinger and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. And the guy he lived with wrote the scores to many of the big Hammer Horror films.

The poem is called 'Alternative Endings to an Unwritten Ballad'. It's popularly known as 'the Mrs Ravoon poem'.
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