All the stuff you never knew you needed to know about life in rural France.....and all the stuff the books and magazines won't tell you.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

It's all scandal, naked women and drivel.

In 1559 John Knox returned from ministering in...Image via Wikipedia
I'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.
Any 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 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 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......

Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. ROFL! I'm reading this on the north coast of Scotland within a stone's throw of the Kirk, so the idea of the penitence stool is resonating nicely.

    I'm also with your doughty mother on the the whole subject of 'celebrities'. They'd have to pay for the privilege of appearing on TV if I had anything to do with it.

  2. Perpetua..whatever happened to 'Civilisaton'?

  3. Fabulous idea. And though it might be counterproductive we could have a league table of celebrities based on how well they did. Imagine being on the bottom of that! Somebody somewhere must go for this idea. Maybe if you throw in a round where they have to eat live cockroached some TV producer will go for it?

  4. it's all been side-lined to minority channels like BBC4, which don't even start broadcasting until 7pm. Sigh....

    Seriously I also blame the decline in the classics. You can now get an A at GCSE in English literature (and almost at A-Level too) without having read anything written earlier than the 20th century.

  5. Steve, I bow to your superior judgement and will be happy to split the royalties.
    You may use this comment in evidence.

    Perpetua, I didn't realise things had become that bad in education.
    However, watching TV adaptions of the classics I wonder what the people responsible can be thinking of. Clearly they are the products of modern English Literature syllabi.

    And as for the horlicks that was made of South Riding!

  6. I wonder how much money it takes to accept public humiliation. I think the celebrity should take questions from the audience, no holes barred. Then, upon the vote, the audience should suggest sending the sinner home with a tenner and a packet of crisps (to stave of hunger).

  7. Sarah, have you seen that a French TV company doing a reality show have just been obliged to treat their contestants as employees?

  8. Hello:
    Not having a television for more than thirty years has been a truly liberating experience. Not for us reality television ......just reality! We can recommend it as an unorthodox yet, in our view, totally satisfying way of life in which the main players are,yes, you guessed it, ourselves!

    We are delighted to have come across your witty and refreshingly different blog. We follow where you lead!

  9. Lance and Jane was nice to come across you over at Dash's French Sampler - a blog I love.

    While in France we did not have a TV for some years...and had the devil's own job persuading the tax authorities that we did not!

  10. Ahhh hen, you have a tongue so sharp it could trim a hedge. A wonderful summation of Scots in general.

  11. Jimmy, well, I suppose it opens us new job opportunities...very ecological, too...a no fossil fuel hedge trimming service...

  12. Could David Willets take part please.

  13. Mark, I think we could give him accelerated priority....

  14. Being of French Huguenot extraction and thus a bit of a Calvinist on the quiet, I can see why they elected to remove the walls of the confessional box. Get it all out in the open so to confess. I think your concept is a commercial ‘goer’. Civilised & intelligent society loves a dirty smelly scandal and is always ready to throw its hard won cash to ‘open the box’ then just salivate and covet away at other peoples debauchments.

    Me - I’m in the minority group of apparently uncivilised dim-witted rebels who ‘just don’t get’ reality Tv or soap shows, so permit me to be the first to confess here in public that I comprehensively and openly detest them. That’s a tenner you owe me then.

    Should appeal to any number of producers with names ending in ‘berg’ or ‘baum’. There ya go…”Based on an original Catholic confessional culture, exposed by a Protestant Scot and financed for profit by a Jew, we bring you …”

  15. Phil, I loved the last paragraph!
    No I don't like the genre either and am supremely ignorant when it comes to 'reality' humiliation...but mother's description would have blistered paint!

  16. Your mother sounds fantastic. I am very familiar with that type of 95 yr old lady... my old Gran was one such; my husbands aunties were others; and I am certain my own mother is heading that way.
    I watched a genealogy programme a few nights ago - Annie Lennox being taken on a journey through her poor Highland ancestors. She ended in the very church her great great great etc granny had sat before the Presbyters confessing her sins of fornication and begging church forgiveness. Which struck me at the time as a curiously RC practice for a Prebyterian (surely only God can 'forgive')- though I suspect it wasn't so much forgiveness as humiliation and castigation that actually mattered... they were the scourge...
    I was brought up within the Wee Free Church. Hard to believe it now.
    Brilliant illustration of the Scots sharpness of tongue...

    1. We're not bosom friends...but she's an independent woman with an independent mind!

      When I was young there used to be jokes ahent the Inquisitor General of the Wee Frees....