Sunday, January 28, 2007

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.


Anonymous Mook said...

baz Says "A Brighton-based (didn’t you just know that) touring theatre company is teaching circus skills to youngsters "
Christ bazza, get your head straight, one week you bitch on about sport facilities being taken away from kids, and not enough physical activity amongst the youngsters, then, as soon as someone comes along and spends some money to get kids doing activities you bitch on again?
get yer head out of yer arse.

7:15 AM  
Anonymous tc said...

Baz, you really will have to do something about this bumper crop of "!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--" interspersing your offerings lately!

5:03 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

... and all I want is £10 (maybe £15k) to go "full-time" and publish books for a year, and hopefully grow my business.

Perhaps I should go into books about diversity?

4:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I once gave a tramp a sandwich still in it's cellophane wrapper as I felt sorry for him....

.....not only did he growl quite competently at me but he called me a ****** *******!

12:41 PM  
Anonymous mook said...

wow... it seems like the usual troupe of arse kissers have gone into hiding.
Has Bazza's condemnation of healthy activities for kids gotten too much for them?
I'm surprised that no one has piped up demanding that "those foreign types" should be excluded, from these activities

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Ade said...

mook, why do you think that circus skills (traditionally most used by people on the run from either the police or tax collectors, or both) should be paid for out of public money? There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of Sunday Football leagues for kids of all ages which parents have to pay for. Similarly for gymnastics, netball, rugby & I suspect that many other traditional sports are the same. Why should "circus skills" be singled out for free cash, especially considering the likely usefulness the skill of "being able to brandish a chair at an elderly lion" will be to a future employer...

9:12 AM  
Anonymous mook said...

ade says
"especially considering the likely usefulness the skill of "being able to brandish a chair at an elderly lion" will be to a future employer... "

Oh come on.. can't you tell satire from truth? I'll wager that no lions, elderly or otherwise, will be let loose near any kids.

how about the exercise involved with things like trapeeze training? the motor skills involved with balancing acts or contortionism? How about building up trust and team work amongst kids? How about the simple, pure fun that these kids will enjoy? Money well spent in my opinion

Money is already put into sunday football leagues by virtue of the fact that pitches and other facilities exist. It's not like no other money is being spent on any other physical activity.

How anyone can think this is a bad thing is beyond me.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous tonyb.liar said...


Are you having problems "getting it out"? Seems like the "weekly" post will soon become the fortnightly.

And do try and get rid of those annoying [if !supportEmptyParas !supportEmptyParas]

Your adoring public is clamouring for the latest epistle - get stuck in!!

Kindest regards.........

12:59 AM  
Anonymous tc said...

Yeah Bazza, where's the venomous prose? There must be enough material for you in the public domain. For example, the health & safety expert that has just been 'done' for shaving whilst overtaking a line of jockmobiles at 70mph. Or Newcastle council's laughable efforts to build 65 metres of decorated fence beside Hadrians Wall taking over 3 years & still not done!

1:40 PM  
Anonymous The other half said...

iynyynfAh yes tc, but there are reasons for the delay. The "officer in charge" went on maternity leave. I only hope she did not take the same amount of time to produce her child.
You must have some sympathy with them, just imagine being told that the Romans built the whole wall (seventy odd miles)by hand in six years but the best they can manage is 65 metres in three years - with all the modern tools.
That's what is called progress?

3:14 AM  

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