Monday, 24 August 2009

Men who know a thing-or-two

Polite society, to which obviously we all aspire, is full of little acts of ceremony; exchanging comments about the weather is typical, this is safe ground on which to begin a conversation with a stranger. However, time moves on and now data loss by government, the idiocy of the ID card system and national databases have become accepted ice-breakers, try it sometime!

The proof of this attitude change comes in off-hand references to these things in out-of-the-way places. The author Anthony Horowitz (above right) is screenwriter for the ITV drama about life in the UK during the Second World War called, 'Foyle's War'. In a newspaper article about his research for this programme, he gave some interesting background detail. Between 1939 and 1945, 178,000 new indictable offences were created, Horowitz quotes 'The People's War' by Angus Calder as his source for this.

Clearly the population was now more likely to fall foul of the law than before. These new laws were applied by overzealous officials and were in fact counter-productive, as respect for the law diminished and crime soared. The 'official' line on the issue of identity cards during WW2 fails to record the great resentment this caused.

A sullen population fought back and fake ration cards became common. At the start of the war this sort of behaviour would have been condemmed by the vast majority of the population. But by the end it was regarded by many people as an essential, just cheeky rather than criminal.

Of all this Horowitz says - “It's been interesting to watch New Labour cobble together laws to combat the so-called war on terror, laws that have proved equally contentious and unpopular”.

He went on - “It's always struck me how little understanding recent Home Secretaries have shown of the British psyche”.

Who could disagree with that?

And so to Griff Rhys Jones, (see right) usually described as a comedian, who has drawn attention to himself, as comedians do, by being controversial! In a recent newspaper article about architecture, with one of his quotes as the title, “Politicians don't care about heritage” – he gets quite strident.

It's the same again in another article, this time with the title, “Down with bad buildings”, here Jones says -

“Bad buildings make bad citizens. The malaise is national, and to mend cities marred by ugly banalities, the next government must first appoint a Commission for Demolition. One candidate would be London's so-called Identity and Passport office”.

What more needs to be said!

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