Bring on the growling tramps
M’ LEARNED friend Ms Cherie Booth QC might laughably hazard the notion that her human rights allow her to hang onto all the free clothes, gifts and jewellery that she’s acquired on her worldwide looting jaunts, but we shouldn’t use this as a reason to dismiss out of hand a citizen’s right to basic freedoms.
Take the right to an education, for instance. Who would deny that to the huddled masses? And then there’s the right to freedom of artistic expression. You might not agree that an unmade bed should be in the Tate Gallery, but just because you don’t like or understand it, it doesn’t mean that it’s not art.
Which brings us all too neatly to the £32,130 of National Lottery money that’s been given to an experimental jazz singer so he can teach tramps to growl. Yes, that’s right: so he can teach tramps to growl.
Phil Minton, 66, will use the money, so generously donated by the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA), to create “feral choirs” of tramps keen to “find their inner voices”. In a series of workshops for “socially-repressed groups”, Mr Minton will lead the assembled choristers in barking, hissing, laughing and growling. A previous “performance” by a feral choir allegedly sounded like a bizarre mix of “buzzing bees and the wind running through the trees”.
(I must apologise at this point for using up this website’s entire weekly ration of quotation marks in one short piece, but there really is no other way to tell it. I’m assured that they will have re-stocked by next week.)
Now I can think of many ways to make a tramp growl. You could refill empty two-litre White Lightning bottles with plain apple juice – or another undefined liquid - and leave them on the shelf nearest the door in Freshco. You could respond to their appeals for “half a crown for a cup of tea” by actually going and making them a cup of tea and then bringing it back to them. Or you could simply superglue pound coins to the pavement. None of these would cost £32,130.
But NESTA has previous for this sort of madness. This column has already detailed its grants of £75,000 to a Welsh poet so he could travel round the world on a yacht; £40,000 to a Brazilian clown so he could investigate “what clowns offer to society” (a bucket of tinsel seems to be the answer); the £74,000 pocketed by a Yorkshire polytechnic lecturer so he could become a sorcerer’s apprentice and learn “what magic might have to offer education”; and the £56,650 given to Jamaican performance poet Jean Breeze so she could … err … go home for a year.
Madness, all of it. Absolute profligate lunacy. But also art, perhaps?
With that sort of cash on offer, I shall be out recruiting my own band of tramps next week. There’ll be no need for growling or hissing. They’ll be quite capable of knocking out a half-decent version of Bryan Adams’ Everything I Do I Do For You with two of them playing the spoons backed by a percussion section of empty Special Brew cans. The wind section I’ll leave to your imagination.
SO WE’VE done the growling tramps; bring on the gay lumberjacks. No, really.
The Forestry Commission is advertising for a £30,000-a-year Diversity Manager (Turkey Army, B Division) to increase the number of homosexuals and members of ethnic minorities prepared to shin up a Scots Pine wielding an axe.
(Ans why do ethnic minorities keep getting lumped in with homosexuals when it comes to matters like this? From what I know of their religious beliefs, they can’t be too chuffed about it.)
I have no idea why this is seen either desirable or necessary. Are people from ethnic minorities or homosexuals expected to make superior tree-fellers? Will they look better in those chunky tartan shirts?
Anyway, the Forestry Commission admits to employing at least 3,000 people (it could well be more). How do they know that half of those aren’t already homosexual? Have they asked?
For all they know, they could already have 1,500 barrel-chested, axe-swinging musclemen going home every night to watch Monty Python videos while dressed as Shirley Temple.
SO THAT’S the growling tramps and the gay lumberjacks out of the way. It must be time for the publicly-funded Kurdish teenage trapeze artists. No, really.
A Brighton-based (didn’t you just know that) touring theatre company is teaching circus skills to youngsters in a bid to improve their confidence. The group also lays on free transport, refreshments and interpreters in Arabic, Farsi and Kurdish.
The cost? A piffling £60,000, funded by local councils, the Arts Council and the EU’s Social Fund – i.e. you and me.
The EU says that the training adds value to national employment and skills. (That bit would have had quotation marks, but as I said, we’ve run out.) Quite how many vacancies we’ve got for high wire plumbers or trapeezing vegetable pickers I’m not sure, but you can bet these boys will be up for it.
And meanwhile a man dies after collapsing in a betting shop because the two nearest ambulances couldn’t be dispatched because their crews were on a compulsory lunch break enforced under the European Working Time Directive.
Ain’t life grand.
THE POLICE and the RSPCA have begun an investigation into the killing of a fox during a shoot on the Sandringham estate last weekend, at which Phil the Greek was present.
I would make two points. Firstly, since the Hunting Act was brought in, shooting a fox is now the approved manner of dispatching such vermin. Secondly, if the RSPCA are so outraged at this wholly legal extermination, why don't they show their displeasure by dropping the word "Royal" from their name?
No, thought not. They're the Alex Best of the charity world.
O The views of Mr Beelzebub are purely personal and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Editor or staff of this website, of anyone who didn't realise that Fairtrade coffee was actually the sweepings off the factory floor, of anyone who couldn't manage to drive to work through a sprinkling of snow at more than 12mph without sliding off into a ditch, or of anyone who thinks it's sensible to lock up a middle-aged journalist for tapping into mobile phones while convicted paedophiles are turned loose onto the streets.