Image via WikipediaI've just had mother on the 'phone.
Or, more accurately, mother has had me on the 'phone.....for what seems like an eternity....with the iniquities of her world.
The new young shopper on a mission to reduce her to a diet of pre-prepared food....
The new morning carer who spends more time filling out her time sheet than she does helping mother....and who can burn toast to a nicety....
Her invisible G.P. and his ever changing locums....(sounds like an act from the old time music hall)...
The hospital car volunteer who refused to take her to hospital... (could it be the scythes on the hubs of her wheelchair, one wondered idly).....
And the state of television.
Confined to quarters while awaiting her knee replacement as a follow on for the hip replacement at the age of 95....three cheers for the NHS....she has been watching television.
Normally, she would watch sport.
She'd watch a knitting competition if it was labelled sport.
She watches the Boat Race every year in keen anticipation of watching the Light Blues sink.
Town she might have been but Oxford Gown takes priority over Cambridge as it has ever since she was a girl, watching the undergraduates throwing fireworks in the street on Boat Race night.
The only thing she won't watch is the Grand National, and I heard her views on the matter once again, as I do every year after the annual slaughter of beautiful animals in the name of greed.
But, with time on her hands, she has been watching television in general.....and she is appalled.
It's all scandal, naked women and drivel.
Mother has encountered the world of chat shows and reality T.V.
What particularly seems to annoy her is a trend for 'celebrities' to witter on about their failures...drink, drugs, serial fornication, you name it....and preen themselves on their ability to have 'come through' it.
She's not against them 'coming through' it...
She's against television channels paying them money to bore the pants off her by using time that could be devoted to sinking boats and soaring gymnasts to boasts of their sordid behaviour in an atmosphere of sickeningly hypocritical 'repentance'.
But, once released and the ear drops applied, I began to think and an idea for a new 'reality' show came to me.
I might be well off track here, as I don't know much more about them than mother's description and a vague memory of someone with a pronounced northern accent recounting what was or had been going on in 'the house'.
To me, 'the house' was the House of Commons so some confusion reigned until it clicked and I clicked off.
So, based on complete ignorance - which seems to be an essential factor for success - here is my suggestion to revitalise the T.V. reality show, while using the current trend of mock repentance.
The penitence stool.
Now, those of you not of Scottish descent may need a little background here.
Take yourself back to the time of Mary, Queen of Scots and John Knox, oarsman extraordinaire, when Protestantism took over from Catholicism at the Reformation.
The reformed church in Scotland was desirous of improving the moral tone of the community.
Accordingly, the priests who carried on under the new regime as ministers would marry the women with whom they had been living in sin and give an example of marital fidelity to their flock, who, in turn, would be encouraged to maintain a high moral tone under the guidance of the minister and the elders of the congregation.
To those of us brought up on tales...and experience... of the three hour sermon, you'd think that that alone was enough to terrify a high moral tone into anyone...but the Scots are a prideful and obdurate race.
They are not deterred by the solemn warning delivered by a minister to an elderly lady, who, hard of hearing, arrived at church bearing her ear trumpet...
One toot an' ye're oot!
Neither are they altogether persuaded by the urgings to emulate the example of the Good Samaritan.....
There are some areas where you would be well advised to stay on your own side of the street in case the sick man proves to be a decoy put out by a gang of muggers.
Nor are they impressed by the inclusivity promised by the minister who, while commentating on the passage in Luke's gospel about the expulsion of the ungodly....at which time there would be 'weeping and gnashing of teeth'.... became aware of the wide grin on the face of a toothless parishioner.
Not pausing in his stride, the minister bent to address him personally
For you, brother, teeth will be provided.
While their faith in the boundless mercy of the Almighty is not encouraged by the minister's depiction of the fate of sinners at the Day of Judgement....
And ye'll be looking up to the Lord and crying
Lord, Lord, we didnae ken, we didnae ken....
And the Lord will look doon upon ye in His infinite mercy and He'll say unto ye
Well, ye ken noo!
I make no apology for the inclusion of these hoary chestnuts....I still enjoy them, bringing back as they do the smell and taste of the mint imperials with which one both weathered and timed the sermon...and, as I say, we Scots are a prideful and obdurate race, with skin thickened to rhino-like proportions by the attentions of the native midge in our formative years.
So, to bring the community to heel, the elders thought up a new stratagem.....name and shame.
Once regarded as guilty of incidents of drunkenness or moral licence of any sort, the offenders would be made to sit upon the penitence stool in church...a low stool, placed where all the congregation could get a good look at the sinner throughout proceedings.
No anonymity in those communities.
This is the idea I wish to use for the reality show I have in mind.
You have the audience...the congregation.
You have the host, or hosts...the elders and minister.
You have the 'celebrity', ready to bare all, probably physically as well as verbally.....the sinner.
The hosts will interrogate the 'celebrity' as to their shortcomings...and as to the sincerity of their repentance.
He or she can wallow in all the sordid details to the delectation of the audience, secure in the knowledge that repentance brings returns.
For instead of paying a fine to clear their consciences, the 'celebrities' will be paid.
The audience, having heard the 'celebrity' answer the questions of the hosts, will vote as to how much money to give them in recognition of their rehabilitation.
Everyone will have a voting pad and the results will be shown on some sort of electronic board with flashing lights.
Oh, and we'll need a woman in an exiguous costume and high heels to operate the board, toss her head and show a lot of teeth.
So if you know anyone in television......