Wednesday, 24 December 2008

...and if anything, then there's your sign of the times

Oh lordy, my life is such a busy and crazy beast. Today is a rare moment of isolation & peace. Don't get me wrong though, I wouldn't swap my current life for anything at all. N & I have had a few adventures that I'd like to reflect upon; The comedic farce that was our effort to go & see Coldplay, The blissed out spontaneity of our drop of a hat trip to Reading of all places & the obligatory tales of drunkeness from the work christmas party. Tales to be told another day though as I want to focus on something much more recent. 

Many years ago, I used to play a game called A Question of Scruples. My memory of it, nothing more than a mildly amusing round of moral dilemmas that could pass an hour or so quite pleasantly. Anyway when I saw it in a charity shop yesterday for the tidy some of £1.50 I suggested to N that it may be a hoot. She concurred & a few short hours later we set about a steady stream of vodka & started playing. I say playing but we didn't bother doing it properly (we're far too rock & roll for that!), we simply read the cards & put the various thorny issues to each other.

After a few questions it started becoming apparent that the game was pretty old, given away by talk of whether you'd give back the pound that friend had left on the sofa. A pound? How quaint.

 Now we had many a laugh & tried not to notice that we were playing a game clearly designed for 1980's Daily Mail readers to engage in with friends after dinner. To illustrate this allow me to give you a selection of the questions:

l        Your teenage son purchases a “hot” cassette player from a friend for £10. Do you allow him to keep it?

l        At a night-club, you notice a handsome young man dressed to the “nines”. Unfortunately, his shirt tail is hanging out. Do you tell him?

l        You're having a great annual party with friends. Your rather stuffy neighbours complain about the noise at 11.00pm. Do you quieten things down?

l        You notice a parked car with it's headlights on. Do you try to turn them off? (and how exactly would one go about that? Don't think I'd be very pleased to return to my motor to find the driver's seat covered in the glass that used to be my window, with a post-it on the steering wheel saying I turned your lights out for you. You're welcome.)

Anyway, all good clean fun and perhaps a gentle reminder of simpler times. Perhaps not. We soon were holding our sides in fits of open mouthed, wide eyed laughter. However, we were chortling  with incredulous horror at the fact that such a question could even be asked;

l        Your daughter tells you she is gay. Do you try to talk her out of it?

I know! Oh my god!! And there's more...

l        Your teenage daughter is dating a boy of another colour. Do you encourage her to date boys of her own race?

l        You are a homeowner. A social agency wants to establish a home for seven mentally handicapped adults next door. Do you sign a petition opposing this?

l        You are a high school head teacher. Will you hire a teacher you know is gay?

And my personal favourite;

l        You don't have seatbelts for all the toddlers you're driving to a puppet show. Do you leave your own children without belts?

Now whilst this all caused us much merriment, it also caused me to consider the time that I grew up in. A time where casual prejudice was commonplace &, even worse, accepted. I remember guffawing at a TV show called “Mind your language”, a terrible international slander-fest based upon a classroom of the most obvious racial stereotypes trying to learn English. A Fez wearing quick tempered Turk, a very butch German lady shot putting type, a sexy little French lady complete with red beret & of course a “goodness, gracious me” Indian character.  I was still in single figures age-wise by the way. It would quite simply not be broadcast today. Nor would the utterly reprehensible “love thy neighbour” where the “comedy” centered around the relationship between a man & the “nig-nog” (I kid you not!) who had moved in next door.

I also clearly remember my mum referring to black people as “darkies”. As for homosexuality, well all poofs were like John Inman (I'm Free!) or Dick Emery, limp wristed dandys. They were certainly not like normal people.

Now I realise I'm only scratching the surface of how those days were but that game & it's ridiculous questions brought something into sharp focus. That we've come a long way. I know that as a society we're far from perfect but how nice it is to get conformation (from the unlikeliest of sources!) that we are actually moving forward.

Anyway it's very nearly Xmas, so allow me to wish anyone & everyone a very merry Christmas.
Let's hope it's a good one!


  1. Back - I knew you wouldn't be able to stay away indefinitely! You'd better stick around this time...

  2. Happy New Year! Sorry it took so long to come around. I've had a nasty beast of a cold/bronchitis and really haven't been much in the world (blog or otherwise) for about 3 weeks.

    Keep up the writing. You really do a fabulous job of it.

  3. John Inman was never a gay, was he?