Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Loose Women Schmoose Women

We’ve had quite a day today. It should have been a really calm one. Nathan was writing up a knitting pattern. I’d decided to thoroughly tidy the front room because I’m bored of living in a pig sty… 

We had the telly on in the background and Loose Women came on. For readers outside the UK, Loose Women is a sort of chat show which is presided over by a group of women, who can loosely be described as celebrities (that’s why they’re called Loose Women). They interview other celebrities and talk about issues of the day, all from a very tabloid-like perspective. Imagine a bunch of fish wives sitting at a bus stop and you won’t go far wrong!

Anyway, we pricked our ears up when they started talking about the landmark case in Northern Ireland where a judge has just ruled against a “family-run Christian bakery” who refused to make a cake with an image which supported gay marriage. 

Normally on the show, the four presenters are expected to give all sides of an argument, so I was expecting a little bit of homophobic bile from Coleen Nolan (the fat Nolan sister who can’t sing) because she’s been openly hostile in the past about gay adoption and gay parenting. I thought Janet Street Porter, who’s always seemed an abrasive, yet fairly sensible sort, would be tasked with the role of defending the decision and supporting her legion of gay fans. 

How wrong we were. It seems that the producers of Loose Women were not interested in balanced argument and allowed the four women on the panel to make some of the most bigoted and offensive remarks I’ve heard this century! It was like going back twenty years and watching Robert Kilroy Silk! (Who, for readers outside this country, was a big orange blob of a bloke who vanished into a puff of right-wing extremism.) 

Street Porter waded in first, claiming she knew all about the case because she’d “written about it before.” And yet her opening statement was incorrect:

“Obviously in Northern Ireland, gay marriage is legal and discrimination against people on the grounds of their sexuality is illegal…”

Gay marriage is not legal in Northern Ireland. It should be, but religious bigots have managed to keep it at bay.  

Street Porter went on to say that she had great sympathy for the bakery, and the whole conversation turned into one of those ones where people say that everyone’s got a right to their own opinions and that the rights of the religious people were not being taken into consideration. 

- Before I go on, I must make one thing clear. I defend anyone’s right to be religious. What I cannot condone is anyone who uses religion as an excuse for bigotry or persecution. One doesn’t choose to be gay. One chooses to be religious - and one certainly chooses what one does with one’s religious views - 

Jamelia Davis (a sort of poor man’s rubbish one in Destiny’s Child) waded in to the discussion with a line which teetered on the edge of offensive; “I completely support equal rights for everyone, but, for instance, if somebody went in and asked for a sexually explicit cake, should they be forced to do that?”

- No, Jamelia. There are obscenity laws in this country which would prevent a cake shop from having to decorate a cake like a giant vagina. Trying to compare gay marriage to hard porn is both offensive and ludicrous. - 

Coleen Nolan’s response, however, was priceless. Her little fat face went all red as she spoke, like she was seething inside: “what if somebody said ‘right, I want a cake, and I want the whole Islamic State on it, and how I support it, and how I support them killing our people? Because it’s a business do they have to make it?”

- No, you stupid, talentless, bigoted woman. There are anti-terror laws in this country. If you went into a cake shop and asked them to put a pro-ISIS remark on a cake, you could legitimately be arrested for inciting terrorism.-

Not one of the four women stood up for gay rights, and I find this deeply worrying when considering that Southern Ireland is holding a referendum on the issue of gay marriage on Friday. These are sensitive times, and all sides of the issue must be explored and discussed. 

ITV have not yet responded. Twitter has gone bananas. Lots of people are up in arms and demanding apologies left, right an centre, from Janet for being a sloppy journalist and getting her facts wrong, from Jamelia for comparing gay people to sexual perverts and to Coleen for comparing us to supporters of ISIS. The latter is particularly nasty. ISIS are currently tying gay men to chairs and throwing them off tall buildings. Coleen’s was a wholly inappropriate and deeply offensive comment, one which I think is bordering on a sackable offence. 

I’ve been on to ITV all day. The manager of the Loose Women team, someone called Penny, refuses to call me back, so has left a poor woman called Lucy in the firing line, trying to deal with the complaints. Complaints in this issue are vital because apologies need to be made. It was a catastrophic ten minutes of telly; the blind leading the blind. Not one woman knew any facts. They were talking for the sake of talking… and we all know that careless talk costs lives. 

So anyway, as I was speaking to ITV, I managed to drop my iPhone and the whole thing has shattered into a million pieces. The rest of the afternoon was therefore spent trying to get a replacement handset to use until the insurers have done their thing, which apparently could take as much as a week… and we all know, in insurance terms, that probably means three.

So I bought the most rubbish little old-fashioned hand set with old-fashioned predictive text messaging which I’ve entirely forgotten how to use. I don’t have any of my contacts in the phone, so basically, if you text me over the next week, it’s worth saying who you are!

I went up to Halfords in Friern Barnet to replace the bulb in the break light of our car, and solved a mystery whilst I was there. For some days now, as we’ve got into our car, we’ve been aware of a sort of cabbagey smell. All became clear when I opened the boot to change the light. During the Billy Whistle shoot last week, a McDonalds package with a load of half-eaten food had been shoved in the boot and forgotten about. It was full of, I think, mayonnaise, which has gone utterly rancid. As I pulled it out, a great big dollop of the smelly stuff smeared itself down my trouser leg. The smell was so insanely grotesque that I instantly gagged and probably would have thrown up all over the car park had it not been raining and therefore somewhat suppressing the smell. 

So, up until that point it wasn’t a very pleasant day… 

The evening, however, was lovely. Izzy Mant and Little Michelle came over to watch the first Eurovision semi-final. I cooked baked potatoes, salads and cheeses and we had cherry pie and custard for pudding. It wasn’t a classic line up of songs. I think Thursday’s semi is a much stronger affair, but Estonia, Serbia, Georgia and Armenia were well regarded. We all had to acknowledge Russia as well, despite the fact that we love to hate that bunch of rancid homophobes. 

Speaking of which… I wonder what the Loose Women will have to say for themselves tomorrow… If you do feel compelled to send ITV a little email about the subject, the address you’ll need is:

On a much more positive final note... I released the trailer for the Brass Cast Album last night at 11pm. I showed it to the cast first... we all gathered in our special virtual Brass room on Facebook, and then let them loose with the tweets and things. It's had a good number of views already - well over a thousand - so if you fancy a look, it's only thirty seconds long and it's here


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