I’m reluctant to rant, given the disdain I had for Andrew Hankinson last February but I’m having a hard time of things I don’t feel are my fault. I had hoped to add a jaunty little afterword to this thread about buying a house but that battle is still ongoing. Still, I shall begin as originally intended with Steve Coogan who this week laid into Top Gear.

Who better to criticise posh white guys who think they’re funny than a posh white guy who thinks he’s funny? It’s great as a piece of peer review as Coogan can’t be accused of so many of the things that less similar peers get accused of. If he was a woman he’d be setting himself up for male eye rolling at his sensitivity and told to get back to the kitchen or if he was a nondescript blogger he’d be setting himself up for accusations of jealousy. Coogan is great because he’s identikit; he even shares the bad haircut and ugly clothes so favoured by the Top Gear lads. 

It’s a crap review as it happens. Coogan manages to sound petulant and pompous at the same time and frankly his writing is tedious. Still, I’m judging him on what he says and not his motivation. I judge him on descending to ‘frenetic arguments about comedy and taste’ because he has now had enough of the defence of things ‘just being a laugh.’ The fiancé maintains that he will never engage in debate in our local press because then he’ll be the kind of person who writes to the local press. It’s the adage of never arguing with a fool lest onlookers be unable to tell the difference. No matter how insightful his words, as soon as the fiancé gets involved he will be cast as a cider drinking West Country boy with a strong moral code (the fact he is a cider drinking West Country boy with a strong moral code is rather beside the point).

I’ve nothing against people who wish to write to their local press (good on them in fact) but it is nevertheless taking a position and Coogan is taking a position here. Coogan is saying his moral code outstrips his ability to let things lie. (Well, either that or he wanted the no doubt juicy pay cheque from the Observer and the notoriety of writing something a bit counter culture yet totally without originality). It’s a slip over the slope that begins somewhere around the time you start to appreciate Radio 2.* 

Coogan is now officially a grumpy old man and not a funny one. Defending himself in advance by saying he’s not a vegan or wears sandals (except the ones he deems acceptable) he actually falls into the same category he accuses the Top Gear boys of as he joins their ‘lazy stereotype’ as to the definition of people who know little about comedy which he clearly doesn’t fit as someone who knows ‘something about comedy.’ I don’t buy this column any more than I would the BNP suddenly announcing plans for their Eid ul-Fitr celebrations. Clarkson’s probably outselling him in the non-fiction chart and nothing more.

Still, he’s qualified to peer review.

Deeper into the paper, a fantastic piece by the delightful Victoria Coren highlights the absurdity of judging people for copy. It’s possibly a little unfair to count Coren in the same breath as a writer for the Mirror but in the grand scheme of things they are industry compatible so I’ll continue with this one.

Basically the tabloids are horrified that Kate Middleton’s parents who sell party goods will be continuing with their day jobs through 2011. Yes, how very dare they? Must be a conspiracy!

It can only be a good thing when the likes of Coren pull their contemporaries up on such absurdity. Such claims are lazy journalism aimed at consumers who love anything touching upon the sanctity of the royals. As with the qualification of Coogan above, best that one of their own (albeit in a far superior league) be the one to criticise.

She’s qualified to peer review.

Now once upon a time this column was quite possibly headed in an entirely different direction but infuriating hoop jumping at the bequest of The Abbey rules that out. 

Day One: We see a house we love
Day Two: We go for a second viewing to confirm our first impressions
Day Three: We put in an offer
Day Four: Our offer accepted, we call the broker who pre-approved our mortgage

Today is day 26.

The case is open. Information is requested and then supplied but along the way We’ve had our finances pulled apart, essentially been accused of money laundering and I’ve needed to take a HIV test! (Ok so the HIV test relates to the critical life cover I’ll be taking out but I’m trying to make a case for being under scrutiny so give me this one).

I’m exhausted and increasingly angry. The fiancé and I are both employed, with good financial records and a large deposit. Our broker has made it clear, it isn’t about us. A few years ago and banks were fighting over people like us and there lies the rub.

We’re not being judged on who we are but on who others have been.

At least the Top Gear boys got to be insulting and the writers for the tabloids to be stupid. Museum girl and accountant boy with their wildness extending to a few adventures in the Far East and a penchant for Italian motoring are frankly rather dull. The kind of dull where a day spent drinking cider in Gloucester with my brother nevertheless ended with me baking sea bass in salt with fresh bay picked from the garden. If we’re going to be scrutinised to such ridiculous degrees why not count the fact that Sunday lunch with the extended family happens on a monthly basis?

I’m not against being judged (per se) but someone is getting it wrong. The fiancé is picking names for kittens and I’m menu planning Easter lunch. He’s not mocking Mexican’s (although interestingly is cooking fajitas as I write this) and I’m not trying to milk the Royal Wed... *ahem* I’m not writing lazy copy about the Royal Wedding. We’re just two people with two part time kids wanting a couple of cats and a house big enough to host family parties.

Judge us on being dull but please let us have a mortgage. Much as money laundering sounds fascinating, we’d rather watch Mad Men and eat Kettle Chips.

* This was in the last few months for yours truly when I heard Graham Norton and realised that old age was when the people you think are funny move to Radio 2 which has the upside of me moving seamlessly into my appreciation of gardening as a relation aid days.

2/10/2011 05:13:57 am

I like this post. I like Top Gear. I love Victoria Coren (also slightly related to her). I do not like Steve Coogan, except the sketch he did about the safety record in a swimming pool. I like the Royal Family and fajitas.

2/10/2011 05:31:03 am

I like nice comments :)

Andy D
2/10/2011 08:08:20 pm

I rather think that Coogan's outburst smacks of protesting too much. He's realised he IS Alan Partridge and is rebelling against it.

2/24/2011 05:57:15 am

I can remember sitting one lunch time in a local pub with many of my colleagues a few years ago. One of them had just bought a house with no deposit. Yes a building society that has since gone bankrupt had loaned money to someone who was not so stable financially and not only did they do this but they weren't even going to take any money off him as deposit. Now I'm not saying he defaulted but given they were building many thousands of flats at the time and prices were already falling before the market fell like it was pushed off a cliff top.

My old credit manager used to say there's an easy way not to lose money - that's not to lend any. The downside is that you don't make any money either.

My cousin was in a similar situation recently where he was struggling to get a decent product, partly because he doesn't yet have two years accounts but also because banks were after 20% deposit on a £200k house. That's a lot for someone who has lived on an overdraft for most of his years. Thankfully his business is picking up and I've been able to help him out in the short term to get his own place once again.

Morbicide - an interesting concept soon to become reality?


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