Monday 1 March 2010

An innocent abroad?

15st 4lb, zero units. There is a wonderful letter in today’s Newcastle Journal from a gentleman in Edinburgh, complaining that he had been misled into trekking all the way to South Shields to see a play which he expected to feature children (why, they “even used a photo of two boys (aged about 12) to publicise the show”) only to find that the characters were all played by adults. Imagine his disappointment.

It’s wonderful because I surely can’t be the only person wondering whether this guy is the UK’s most brazen paedophile, or simply the country’s last genuine innocent, inhabiting a bubble in which he fails to appreciate the inference that every sniggering cynic will place upon his complaint.

I must confess that I had never heard of The Machine Gunners, but I gather that it is a musical based on a moderately well known children’s book about teenagers growing up on Tyneside in the Blitz. The publicity photo on the internet is clearly a genuine, period, black-and-white shot of 1940s Geordie scamps, who look as though they are cheerily looting the contents of a bombed house (but perhaps it was indeed their Mam’s) so it would be a trifle optimistic to expect to see them live on stage, not least because they must now be at least 80 years old.

Still, I do admire the man for complaining, despite the risk of ridicule and / or having his windows put through by News of the World readers (you remember, the ones who stoned a paediatrician out of his house). Something about it reminded me of a pocket-sized, shrink-wrapped publication sold through sex shops in Soho in the 1970s, called Women and Animals. The cover photograph typically featured a scantily clad young slapper exchanging meaningful glances with a stallion. While inside, when the eager pervert got home and ripped his purchase open, were page after page of … photos of a fully clothed Princess Royal show-jumping, society ladies walking their Pekinese, and so forth. How could anyone complain? Women and Animals. It delivered exactly what it said on the label.

Before anyone posts a comment to enquire, I know that story because it was told to me by a colleague who had taken the pornographer in question out to lunch, with a view to arranging a stock market flotation of his seedy empire. Something which, strangely enough, never materialised. While I freely confess that I have sometimes taken a passing interest in what I prefer to describe as art pamphlets, bestiality has never been my cup of tea. Phew! I can hear The Dog breathing more easily even as I type.

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