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Hardback Religion & The New Pornography March 21, 2011

Posted by markswill in About me, Navel Gazing, Politics, Schmolitics.

In response to my last outburst, Obamara-sceptic and probably the world’s wittiest investment banker (though frankly there can’t be much competition), Terry Kreuger berated me for spending too much time claiming that the inexorable rise of digital books would have grim economic and cultural consequences. Instead, he chided, I should’ve concentrated on the lamentable demise of the hardback book which he and presumably only a few hundred of his fellow Americans can still afford to buy. He doesn’t actually read them of course, but as a sort of upscale pornography for the illiterati, these big, fat tomes look damn good on his wood-paneled library shelves. Trouble is, fewer and fewer publishers are bothering to produce them and so his reputation as a faux intellectual is therefore in jeopardy.

Well he has a point of course, and along with out mutual friend, Barry O’Connor (the thinking man’s Fred West), I also rue the day when only copies of Katie Price’s and possibly Alan Titchmarch’s latest oeuvres will be available between something stiff and impressive. But with even venerable authors like Hilary Mantel publicly voicing their enthusiasm for digi-books, I wonder how long the hardback can last? And since I myself can’t really afford them, at least not when it’s a toss-up between buying Howard Jacobson’s latest, five litres of Super Unleaded for the Lancia, or a Mega Bucket of Chicken McNuggets for my latest glittering soiree… it’s still the local charity shop’s 50p bargain bookshelf for me.

A similar dilemma occurred this week when a major study (aren’t they always?) revealed that obesity is not the threat to bring down the Health Service that our loyal servant-masters would’ve had us believe. Apparently although we, or rather the yanks whose socio-cultural footsteps we obediently follow, are getting ever fatter thanks to crappy diet and sedentary lifestyles, we are still living longer. Up until now I’ve been able to justify my vocal disdain for the ill-dressed fatsos who waddle around not just the streets of London (where a Tesco and fast-food outlet on every corner gives them slightly less excuse), but increasingly even the artisan sculpted pavements of my illustrious rural nook (where we all run at least five miles a day and eat nothing but organic salad) on the grounds that the NHS will be unable to cope with the rising tide of obesity-related ailments unless taxes are raised and/or we sack all bureaucrats. Actually that last assertion is entirely fallacious, but since our Great Leader, Mr Cameron, is increasingly given to blaming bureaucrats for almost everything that ails the nation, then why shouldn’t I?

So I am now pretty much exposed as simply being fatist, and thus is revealed one of my least attractive traits which, as Messrs. Kreuger and O’Connor frequently point out in our increasingly acerbic email exchanges, are somewhat legion. (Though obviously anyone who carries extra weight for genetic reasons or as an unfortunate consequence of a medical conditions should ignore this divisive and bilious outburst). Bereft of the longevity and healthy living excuse, I must now admit that I am simply vain and shallow, qualities unattractive in a middle-aged man, especially one who these days almost exclusively favours the cheapo Japanese chain Uniqlo as his personal outfitters, thus attracting further opprobrium of the mutton’n’lamb variety. Indeed whilst the fact that I can still squeeze into a 32in waistband when all about me are pushing 38 – and we’re not talking age-gaps here – had hitherto been something of a badge of pride, it must now be seen as a rather pathetic effort to cling onto a sartorially avant garde youth I never really had.

Before the International Journal of Epidemiology’s aforementioned report was published, I took occasional comfort from fellow fatist travelers, most recently the rakish (and rake-like) husband of a dear (and I hasten to point out, svelte) ex-girlfriend with whom I animatedly discussed our mutual antipathy towards middle-aged spread… whilst she rolled her eyes and tutted. I do  of course acknowledge that our metabolisms slow down as we age and we all tend to put on a few pounds, but surely that’s no reason to revel in it?  And thus followed my long-held vanity-maintenance regime which includes twice weekly gym visits and an addiction to Sweet’n’Low, but I do now reluctantly realise that I’m on a hiding to nothing. This is because television and press ads now feature fuller figure models posing as the delightfully content  parents of tubby tweenagers – as opposed to waif like singletons gnawing distractedly on Ryvitas in achingly minimalist apartments that I once so admired – and we as a nation have become obsessed with quiz and reality t.v. programmes in which everyone is fat and badly dressed.

The norm has thus become the enormous, although before my feminist critics dip their virtual pens into their vats of digital poison, I would simply ask them if being overweight has become so damned desirable, why are there no fat pornstars, upscale or otherwise?

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Better Dead Than Read? March 1, 2011

Posted by markswill in About me, Media, Politics, Schmolitics.

(c) Words and pictures Mark Williams, may not be used without permission