Littlejohn's House of Bum - part 3

And so we arrive at the last part of Littlejohn's House of Bum, where we will look at his unbelievably thorough and rigorous research techniques, carried out, you'd imagine, by a crack team of researchers hooked up to a vast array of enormous flatscreens and blinking lights, a bit like Oracle in the Batman comics. Every time a playground game is banned, buzzers go off and the crack team swoop into action, contacting everyone involved in the story before sending Littlejohn an alert on his flashing red mobile phone with dates, times, streets and names.

Sorry. I'm buggering about.

Littlejohn's research

All Littlejohn's books are littered with nonsense that takes a few seconds and an internet connection to disprove. As coincidence would have it, this Tuesday's column (the most recent as I'm writing this) includes a bunch of old hogwash that was used in an article in 2009, again in 'Littlejohn's House of Fun', reproduced in his column in March 2010 and finally again this Tuesday.  At the cutting edge, Mr Littlejohn.

One new detail in the most recent iteration is an instalment of one of his hilarious 'let's look at job titles and reproduce them out of context, embellishing them as we go' series:
Haringey hired someone to give hopscotch lessons to Asian women.
Except no it didn't. In the neighbouring borough, Camden, there's a centre for Asian women that deals with things like 'domestic violence, benefits, housing, education, immigration and health matters'. As well as providing 'support to people with learning disabilities'. It's called the Hopscotch Centre.  The made up version apparently dates back to 1995.

His books are littered with similar examples. Here are some of my favourites. They go along with the nonsense about NASA scientists saying the polar ice caps are growing I looked at in part 2.

In 2002, the media was up in arms about the Red Cross banning Christmas in its shops. This got picked up again last Christmas, and the Red Cross responded (again) with:
It’s true that you won’t find explicitly religious items or displays, relating to any faith, in any of our shops, at Christmas or any other time. [...] This neutrality is one of our fundamental principles and governs everything we do in the whole Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It means that we can reach and help people in need, whoever and wherever they are. Often we provide help in countries that other organisations cannot or will not work in.
Here's how Littlejohn responded to a similar explanation in 2004, reproduced and adjusted a bit in 'Littlejohn's Britain':
Cobblers. The Red Cross is a Christian organisation. Where do they think the cross comes from? Muslim countries have their own version, called the Red Crescent.
Face. Palm. The Red Cross is the Red Crescent. And the cross comes from the reversal of the Swiss flag, as I learned in primary school. That explanation was given by the Red Cross in 1906 specifically to counter claims from the Turkish government that it was a Christian organisation.

In 'Littlejohn's Britain', released in 2007, he says cyclists face a £2,500 fine if they ride a bike with no bell. They don't. The government was apparently 'studying' such a rule in 2006, but never introduced it. The proposal was covered in a sober, sensible manner at the time by the Evening Standard.

In 'House of Fun', published in 2010, Littlejohn rails against Derby Council for refusing to reinstate a statue of a boar in one of its parks because of offending Muslims. Here's a link with a picture of the statue from 2005 when it was in fact reinstated.

In 'Littlejohn's Britain', he rails against the idea of Tony Blair being interviewed by Little Ant and Dec, since no other Prime Minister would ever stoop so low as to appear on children's television. "For all her media savvy, Mrs Thatcher managed to win three elections without the help of Tucker and Pogo off Grange Hill," apparently. Except here's a link including Cheggers reminiscing about interviewing her on Saturday Superstore, the same programme on which she was famously outwitted by a kid ringing in to ask if she had a bunker to use in a nuclear war.

You get the gist. Laziness, stuff taken out of context, an eagerness to accept anything that fits into the 'they only want to ruin our fun' narrative that extends to never bothering to check if proposals ever made their way through to being policy or whether anything that happened once ever happened again, and never noticing when these contradict other things he's said.

Last bonfire night, he claimed Watford didn't have a bonfire celebration because it didn't (apparently) in 2007. In 2010, predictably, it had several.

This post opened with Littlejohn moaning about someone getting a job teaching Asian women to play hopscotch, except as eagle-eyed readers would have spotted, hopscotch is banned.

Whole subjects built out of a lack of research

A lot of the PC Gone Mad stories are built from a postbag bulging with one sided, unsubstantiated stories from readers that are never checked or followed up. His 'Mind How You Go' stories about how crap and petty the police are is fed almost exclusively by the same sort of thing. It never seems to occur to this crack journalist that people facing a fine might just be giving a one-sided version of events that might just be slightly embellished to paint them in the best possible light.

There is a new type of Littlejohn story built out of this stuff. Given his obsession with bins, it probably shouldn't be a surprise that individual local stories become suddenly of national importance, but Britain's best paid columnist has managed to build a whole series of stories about supermarket checkout staff making mistakes.

Every now and again, supermarket staff get over-enthusiastic with their implementation of rules about asking for identification when selling alcohol. It's crap when it happens, but it happens. People misunderstand rules, people forget a little common sense, sometimes people are even jumped-up little Hitlers with a complex. Should it make the national papers? Maybe in an 'and finally' type of way, but as evidence of a vast government conspiracy?

For Littlejohn, yes. Getting asked for ID when you're way over 18 is more than just evidence of 'people dreaming stuff up to justify their own pathetic existence' this time. It's evidence that:
The [Labour] government clearly figured that eventually we'll become so frustrated that we'll gratefully accept a 'one-stop' state identity card.
Dun-dun-durrrrn. Presumably nobody way over 18 has ever been asked for ID when buying booze since May 2010. Except whoops and whoops.

Littlejohn the man

There's the odd glimpse of what Littlejohn's like as a person in the books, but the best is the opening vignette about Tony Blair from 'Littlejohn's Britain'.

The story goes like this. Our smelly faced chum was invited to dinner with the future Prime Minister back in the 90s and, establishment outsider as he is, he attended. He didn't throw any bottles, but as the evening wore on and some were presumably emptied, he launched into a hilarious idea of how Blair should raze Liverpool to the floor and tarmac it over. How sweet.

Except he didn't know Cherie Blair was from Liverpool.

Rather than this being a story about how you can inadvertently put your foot in it and make an embarrassing faux pas that makes you feel a little bit sick when you remember it, he offers this story up as an example of how horrible Tony Blair is. You'd expect the illegal war leaving thousands dead, the sucking up to the worst, most bloodthirsty US administration in decades and the erosion of civil liberties would have been better examples, but there it is. Blair is slimy because he let Littlejohn blather on without stopping him. Cherie, of course, is totally incapable of stopping him or saying anything herself because she's a woman:
Then I wondered: why the hell didn't he say something?  Why did he sit there grinning and nodding instead of saying something like: 'Look, I know you're only joking, Rich, but I think I should point out that, er, actually, ha, ha, Cheri's from Liverpool...'?

Blair would rather risk a night in the spare bedroom than stop in full flow a half-pissed hack whom he'd hoped to impress.
Because that's what women do, even QCs.  They wait for their husband to speak for them or they withhold sex.  The bitches.

As much of a reptilian villain Blair actually was, I think a lot of us have been in a situation where we've thought, Oh my god, he's actually a massive bell-end. Won't be inviting him to anything again, while we've stood aghast and let some embarrassing, pissed-up prat finish before moving on to talk to someone else.  Lots of other people have while I'm around, that's for sure.

Wrapping it up

That's as much as I can bear of Littlejohn now. The question I set out asking was whether there was a through line that provided some Littlejohn-ray specs to make sense of his columns with.

There is, but that doesn't mean Littlejohn actually believes the stuff he writes.  He just slots things into the pre-existing line, just like the paper he writes for.  Back in my first ever post about Littlejohn, I said:
I don't look at Littlejohn's writing much, mainly because I think he's an arse who probably doesn't even believe what he writes himself...
Now, I honestly don't think he gives a shit whether what he writes is true or not.  He gets paid gazillions of pounds for writing 'provocative' stuff, so that's what he does.  Or at least, that's what he lazily reproduces over and over and bloody over.

What does that imply about his attitude to his readers.  Doesn't care much, huh?  He'll repeat any old cack any number of times without checking it's true.  Because at the end of the day, he doesn't give a shit.  He's paid to whip up an audience, and that's what he lazily does, with half an eye on his pancakes.

I won't repeat the line from 'To Hell In a Handcart' about his fictional radio host's audience being like a 'fucking NF rally' (except whoops! I just did), but I'll wrap up by reproducing how Littlejohn describes the audience of the character who's most like himself when they actually turn up:
Ricky was joined on the back of the truck by an overweight, peroxide blonde, wearing a tight denim skirt, white trainers and a replica Leyton Orient football shirt.  She was waving a Rocktalk 99FM placard bearing the message: FREE MICKEY FRENCH.

'What brought you here this morning, er...'
'Yeah, Kaylee.  Why are you here?'
'We want Mickey out.  He done nuffink wrong.  He just defended hisself against some thieving gyppo. 'Bout time some-one done sommink.'
And, just after describing the supporters and their badly scribbled placards, the anti-racist crowd gathering to oppose them and his listeners making a break through the police cordon:
A ferocious-looking woman in a pink Ellesse tracksuit was rugby-tackled by a stout WPC.

A large and especially ugly skinhead in a brand-new Rocktalk 99FM T-shirt headbutted a student waving an AFL banner.
Are you a LIttlejohn fan?  Then according to him, that's you, that is.

That's it.  I won't waste much more time on Littlejohn in the future unless it's to point and laugh.  There's nothing to work out.  He really is as shallow as he appears.  I feel as cheated as his readers should for even wondering enough to read his books.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"The [Labour] government clearly figured that eventually we'll become so frustrated that we'll gratefully accept a 'one-stop' state identity card."

B... but... even if there was a national ID card, you'd still have to show it when buying alcohol. Given that most people have photo ID anyway a national ID card wouldn't make the situation any less frustrating!

I know I shouldn't expect conspiracy theories involving evil supermarket checkout staff to make sense, but come on.