Wednesday, 21 January 2015

International Day Of Acceptance, Another Odeon Own Goal And Staring At The S*n

Today’s entry was going to be a slower-paced, more sedate and calm stroll through some of the noteworthy but not pulse-quickeningly infuriating events of the week in both my own troubled existence and in the wider world. We may still get to that, but I am afraid I can no longer make any promises about the pace or calmness of this piece.

That’s mainly because just three days on from Disabled Access Day on January 17 came International Day Of Acceptance on January 20. Now I know we have been through this in a previous column and in what turned out to be one of the more heated discussions in Facebook history (and continued to be long after I left it apparently) but I really do remain flummoxed by this sort of thing. Just as the notion of Disabled Access Day seems to imply that it is ok to have no disabled access every other day, so International Day Of Acceptance appears to suggest that you only have to be accepting of other people’s race, disability, culture, gender, religion or whatever for that one day. Since International Day Of Acceptance was yesterday we can presumably now revert to our intolerance and prejudices?

The argument for these sorts of events is that they raise awareness. Maybe, but it’s sobering to contemplate that when asked by a journalist around the time of Black History Month how we could ever stop racism Morgan Freeman replied simply by saying ‘by not talking about it’. He was objecting to Black History Month on similar grounds, arguing that there is no White History Month or Jewish History Month so why is that we need a Black History Month? We probably don’t. But like Disabled Access Day and International Day Of Acceptance they make us feel better about the lack of effort we make for the rest of the year. So this trend for setting aside days to raise awareness of the bleeding obvious is set to continue. Look out over the coming months for ‘World Wash Your Hands When You’ve Been For A Shit Week’ and ‘International Day Of Not Stealing From Your Mother To Fund Your Crack Habit’.

Disabled Access Day might have been a roaring success for all I know, but it certainly wasn’t for one unfortunate wheelchair using soul who ventured out to see a film at his local cinema that day. Joe France, a 12-year-old from Harrogate in North Yorkshire was keen to see The Theory Of Everything, a biopic about the life of genius astrophysician and WHEELCHAIR USER Stephen Hawking which has been pelted with award nominations in recent times. Young Joe was left disappointed however when it turned out that the Odeon Cinema was not showing the film on any of its accessible screens. Any of its accessible screens. First of all, why does it have inaccessible screens? Well, because it is a listed building, that’s why. For clarification, listed buildings are those which have been ‘judged to be of national importance in terms of architectural or historic interest’ according to Ok. Now I can see why you can’t install lifts and ramps into a 12th century castle. I visited Nottingham last summer and marvelled with everyone else at the beauty of the castle there. I’d agree that it would lose something if you were to add in everything you would need to make all of it wheelchair accessible. But if a building is protected against an overhaul for access reasons why is it allowed to undergo any sort of conversion to become an Odeon Cinema? Are Odeon Cinemas of ‘national importance in terms of architectural or historic interest’?

You may remember that Odeon is the same company responsible for removing a customer from one of their theatres for using a ventilator too loudly. Now comes this second PR own goal in as many weeks for what in any just world would be fast becoming a beleaguered company. I remember Jamie Carragher scoring two own goals in the same game against Manchester United once. I can’t remember any other examples of two own goals in quicker succession, but even Odeon can’t compete with the man who was once identified by a Sky Sports statistician as the man with the second highest number of goals against Liverpool in the Premier League era. I doubt whether Odeon Cinema profit margins will go down even a fraction of a percentage point in reality. Nobody cares enough, and Joe’s wound is heavily salted by the irony that this happened on Disabled Access Day and that it was the biopic of a wheelchair user who has achieved more than probably any other in the last half century. Certainly more than anyone reading this or anyone currently working at Harrogate Odeon whether they use a wheelchair or not.

Now I promised we would get to some other news and we will. Social media has been buzzing over the last few days over the sudden disappearance of topless women on page 3 of The Sun newspaper. In the first instance and whatever you think about the rights and wrongs of page 3, it is unpalatable to see apparently responsible people like members of parliament congratulating The Sun newspaper for anything. I have never been a Sun or News Of The World reader, not even in the days before their now notorious crimes against decency and humanity regarding Hillsborough and The Millie Dowler murder. They have always been Tory rags, save for the couple of months in 1997 which they spent recognising that a Labour election victory was inevitable and so jumped on board to claim the assist.

But showing a few boobs on page 3 was, in my humble opinion, among the lesser crimes that they have committed. The legions of men I have seen posting their congratulations on Twitter on the ending of the objectivity of women are either lying in an attempt to be seen by women as some sort of modern feminist, or they should go along to their local quack and ask to have their pulse checked as they might very well be dead. Either way, the women they are targeting should avoid them at all costs. Remember ladies, all acts of romance and chivalry are sexually motivated. Meanwhile, the Sun and News Of The World will remain Tory rags (changing your brand from the News Of The World to the Sunday Sun fools nobody but the most gullible) regardless of what happens to page 3, which they have yet to officially announce the abolition of in any case. The word is that they are leaving the situation in the event that sales take a turn for the worse.

I’m leaving the last word to Dierdrie. I haven’t been a fan of Coronation Street since I was a much younger man but growing up Anne Kirkbride’s character was a regular presence in our house and we all followed her fortunes avidly. Except my dad who used to develop pains in his neck whenever he heard the Coronation Street theme tune. Now I have said in other columns that we should not go overboard in mourning the famous because we don’t actually know them and to turn out in the streets in floods of tears is hysterical and disrespects the grief of those who genuinely knew and loved the deceased. So I’m not going overboard or hysterical, just pointing out that Kirkbride’s passing has taken with it an iconic symbol of my youth.

And that has to be worth the last word.

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