Signed….Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells

Anyone watch the first episode of the second Downton Abbey saga? Watch, that is, as it was broadcast?

Seems as though there were two different sets of outcries from viewers, annoyed not with the broadcast itself, but with the number and length of the adverts which accompanied the story. The first set of attacks centred around the number and length of the adverts, which ITV chose to air for a total of 23 minutes out of a total programme time of 90 minutes. As the Daily Mail cartoon observed “They spoil the adverts by having little bits of drama in between”.

The second set of complaints were founded in the insurance company Aviva’s broadcasting of life insurance ‘stories’ whilst images of trench warfare, death and violence were showing, as part of their blitz upon the viewing public.

As for the first complaint, there does seem to be a case for ITV to answer, mainly because they did over-run, in strict terms, the usual time allotted to advertising. The episode was billed as being 90 minutes long, but the viewer only gets 67-odd minutes of drama. They might reply that the show was broadcast in Prime Time, 9.00 p.m. on a Sunday, they are a commercial broadcaster and they have sold the slots to maximise exposure to their clients’ products and services.

The second series of complaints is perhaps a little more tenuous in origin, based on the Aviva adverts for a ‘story’ of a injured motorcyclist who presumably gets all the support he needs because he signed up with Aviva.

We are ‘blitzed’ on an daily basis by the advertising profession, and I defy anyone to state that their behaviour has not been modified by one advert or another. The adverts which I remember best are the ones which make me laugh, but doubt whether I have ever actually purchased a product based upon my rather twisted sense of humour! The fact that we can, at the ‘click’ of a mouse determine whether others have had a good or lousy experience with any item or service says at least that most adverts have to be at least honest in their claims. I wrote a novel once which had ‘subliminal advertising’ as a theme or rather a sub-plot. It is because of my own limited knowledge of psychology that I know that the ‘subliminal message’ just could not work, a fact for which we should all be truly thankful!

As for Downton Abbey, I enjoyed the whole of the first broadcast without watching a single advert. How? Simple, I recorded the whole thing, watched it later; and fast-forwarded my Sky box whenever the dreaded ‘advertising breaks’ commenced.


Equal to me? That bunch? No ways!

When I met, courted and finally married my wife, I was following in the footsteps of hundreds of thousands of other couples over the ages since Man became sentient and civilised. Man and woman became husband and wife, we in a church before our God as with many others, others in civil or other religious services; but we all did the same thing, we promised to be a family, hopefully to have, to raise and to nurture children, because we loved each other, and because children are a natural product of love. Whatever else has happened in the intervening forty-three years, our love has given us three children, and now of course three grandchildren, all of whom give me intense pride and joy.

Never mind the chorus of the ‘sexually-liberated’. Ignore, if you will, all the bleatings of those who would decry the very idea of ‘the Family’, that is what it is all about. The basic urge of a woman to have, to create a child with the one she loves is the foundation of civilisation as we know it.

Marriage, as recognised by the State, by all Churches, by the vast, overwhelming majority of people the world over; is a vow between a man and a woman to live together, to have children if possible, and to live, love and grow old together. So whatever is pushed at the Lib-Dem conference, whatever is promulgated by Lynne Featherstone, in the sacred cause of ‘equality’, whatever is dreamed of within the sterile unions of homosexuals, of lesbians, of other strange and convoluted groupings,  they cannot and should not ever have the ‘blessing’ of the term ‘marriage’ placed upon their ‘couplings’. I would repeat the term ‘sterile’ because that was what explained by Charles Darwin. He stated that, in order to survive, all beings  are continually adapting to their natural environment in order to have a better chance of surviving. The weakest and most poorly adapted die off, while the strongest and most improved survive long enough to mate. Their offspring inherit their genes, and thus the species improves from one generation to the next. If you cannot breed successfully, your type withers and dies, it is as straightforward and as complicated as that.

Whatever else can be said, and I could say a great deal, about homosexuals, about lesbians, about the various oh-so-heavily protected types of deviants who cavort in all their ghastly splendour in the various ‘Pride’ marches, the one thing which can be viewed as definite is that without technology, without surrogacy, without any of the legal, illegal or twisted methods used, they cannot conceive a child in a natural fashion. Some amongst us are cursed with the inability to conceive children by natural means, but science has progressed; and now there are many in-vitro fertilisations for married couples who find that they are infertile. But, and it is an enormous ‘But’, the desire to have children in a family environment is what is, and should be, the driving force. So, if there cannot be children by any means, there cannot be Marriage either!

blades…of carbon fibre; or shaving?

I write today of on two combined topics, one of which I understand very little, and the other a fair bit. I wish to discuss openness, and argument, and that most tricky of ideas, if you get special treatment; what about everyone else’s right to get that same treatment?

I have written only once before on a ‘sporting’ topic, and landed both David and myself in hot and deep water because I didn’t know the difference between ‘special’ and ‘ordinary’ Olympics that I hesitated to try once again, but since most of you already accept that ignorance is a virtue, I thought I’d give it another try!

In sport, it usually is all about ability, then training, then motivation. Whether in football, rugby, cricket, baseball (or rounders, if you prefer the English version), even American football, which comes complete with more body-armour than the average Star Wars Imperial Guard, the competitor is judged on whether he plays as part of a team, and that is how it should be. The pressure is subtly different on individual activities, such as athletics, cycling, swimming, where there are team competitions, but usually between individuals striving to be the best. Apart from those whose successes are chemical-based, the majority of athletes compete totally on their individual abilities, on training, on their will to win. Personally, I just don’t get it, this urge to ‘be the best’, to win at any price; there are always the pretty things, the cash, the girls or the men, the baubles which are awarded those who triumph; but there again, not too many people are like me.

I wrote that I would speak of openness, and the first name on my very short list is that of Oscar Pistorius, the South African who refused to acknowledge the very word ‘disabled’, and set out to prove that he was as good as any other runner, even though he didn’t have all the equipment usually required of runners, namely legs. Technology ‘stepped in’, if you will excuse the pun, and Oscar comes equipped with flexible carbon fibre blades attached to his upper thighs, blazing a trail through disabled track meetings. Here comes the problem, because Oscar wishes to compete, and indeed does so in ‘able-bodied’ events. The simple truth about our Oscar is that because he is so open; well one could say that he would be hard-pressed to camouflage those high-tech legs, he should be allowed to compete on merit. His relay team race in Daegu came third, and against completion such as the Americans, that was not a bad result at all. One of his opposition athletes even stated that he had ‘no problems’ competing with the carbon fibre-equipped South African.

There is, however, no signs of that same ‘openness’ when it comes to Oscar’s fellow South African, Caster Semenya. This athlete sprang on to the world stage giving supercharged performances and blowing her opposition into the dust, which is where the problem commences. Her performances were, in many eyes, too good to be true; and the problem is that many of those eyes are on the same track as hers. There have been tests, and checks, and leaks of those results; but all the opposing athletes are told is, ‘she is qualified to run, end of questions’. Now there are just too many queries, too many voices, to allow her, if Semenya qualifies to hold the title of ‘her’, to go on without many more opposing voices speaking out. To quote one of her track opponents.  “For me, she is not a woman,” and as long as those sentiments are expressed, the opposition to her running as a woman will continue.

It is true that in these days of gender reassignment technology, the choice is hers, but the feeling still holds that while she may have female sex organs, she also might well have strong hermaphroditic tendencies as well. She bulks up as a man does. She has many of the same characteristics as a man, such as broad shoulders and a tapering physique, but her Grandma mutters, ‘she is a girl, and I ought to know!’

As one Lesbian commentator stated, “Perhaps her commitment should be taken as one more step towards the removal of sex as a barrier in competition?”, and folks; perhaps her view is just as valid as mine!