Thursday, April 03, 2008

Aaro revisits a theme

(Update: don't ignore the Mary Kaldor post below, just because I have no concept of sensible pacing - bb)

Aaro in satirical mood. Come on, everybody, calm down for Christ's sake; the world isn't such a dangerous place, immigrants aren't boiling our swans, crime isn't rising. So count your blessings and stop being so angry about everything. Except terrorism, of course, you should still keep shitting yourselves about that (that last bit was me editorialising). Aaro has a pop at Martin Samuel, trying to portray him as a thinking man's Clarkson (which he is, a bit) and ignoring the fact that he's done a few fantastic pieces of opinion journalism recently (like this one; even the one Aaro deservedly mocks is written with energy and style, and although it's quite studiedly economically illiterate in mistaking the signs of prosperity for inflation, Aaro is not well placed to criticise anyone for that).

Of course it's in the general line of "don't criticise your betters", which I seem to remember I used to get much more angry about in the younger days of this blog - but after five years of that fucking war and the rise of organised Decency it troubles me less; how can you really work up a froth of rage about Aaro when the Times also prints Gove? It's like ignoring North Korea and Zimbabwe and always concentrating on criticising Israel. Which I also do.

The cars stuff, btw, has a bit of backstory: since the housing crisis began and therefore interest has dwindled in the only section of the Ham & High anyone really cares about, that newspaper has been spicing up its local news pages by serialising an extended interview in which Tom Conti calls Aaro, at length, a cunt, in retaliation for Aaro slagging Conti to "an audience at Burgh House" (I think this is like the posh equivalent of doing stand-up). In the mean streets where I come from this might have been settled by a gentlemanly fight in a car park (and, I suppose, in the meaner streets that I don't come from, by a volley of gunfire). But up in Hampstead they have their own folkways, so this feud will roll on.

Did you see, by the way, that I brought up the subject of the subprime lending crisis at the start of the last paragraph? That was "foreshadowing", because the interesting thing about this particular strand of Aaroism (tolerance and understanding for our social superiors, ASBOs and deregulated labour markets for the plebs) is that it's going mainstream. As far as can be seen, John McCain's current economic policy is that there should be no bailout of the housing market, no assistance for overstretched subprime borrowers, but that "the financial markets" need to be the recipients of large amounts of taxpayers' mun, while the long term solution involves more deregulation. We've noted in the past that Aaro lacks an economic policy; maybe this is the one. It's a combination of the "risk-obsessed society", social and economic benefits of removing, on the one hand, and traffic-calming schemes and their moral equivalents on the other. Obviously this could be presented (and to Aaro, probably subjectively feels like) as a sensible pragmatism, but one can't help noticing that it's always the rich and/or powerful who get the benefit of the doubt and need our tolerance, understanding and often money, while it's the man in the street (even if that street's a leafy one in Hampstead) who needs to be taught a few sharp shocks. Sort of Frank Furedi for thee, Ben Bernanke for me.

New byline photo, by the way (or possibly a bit of Photoshop work on the old one). Either way, they've sorted out the terrible lighting and shadows that gave Aaro bags from hell under his eyes, and cropped it a bit lower across the forehead to make his hair look a bit less unruly. It's an improvement, though I do wish he'd make a decision about that beard. It has to be said that this is one area in which Aaro has Martin Samuels' number for sure.

In related "having a pop back at Aaro" news, the Bishop of Durham tries to defend his use of the phrase "killing surplus old people". To be honest it doesn't convince.

[1] A sidebar on the sort of subjective experiences which can shape a man's mental picture of what the labour market's like: Aaro noted in his stand-up act, and in his London mayor column, that his move into political journalism was highly fortuitous, as it came at a time when he had passed and surpassed his Peter Promotion Point and was stuck in a middle manager's job in broadcasting, while being no good at administration and during a period of middle management downsizing. At this point he "discovered not only that I could write, but also that I absolutely loved it[1]" and moved into print journalism at the Independent. Which is true and fair enough; Aaro's a good writer and deserves his prominence. But he's also a very good friend of Peter Mandelson (they were Young Communists together and Mandy got Aaro the job on Weekend World, and 1995 was pretty much the apogee of Mandelson's trajectory. Aaronovitch Watch (incorporating World of Decency) is not going to condemn anyone for taking their breaks where they find them, but it has to be recognised that there were lots of middle managers getting shoved out of the TV industry at the time, many of them also intelligent and interesting people who could have written award-winning columns. If things had zigged rather than zagged, one can easily see an alternate version of history in which Aaro experienced the sorts of economic policies he recommends from the other side.


Blogger ejh said...

Kaldor not Beard?

4/03/2008 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

Thanks - I've got beards on the brain apparently.

4/03/2008 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Conti - what a twat.

4/03/2008 09:16:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

" Am I really part of a metropolitan class that has lost touch with the realities of everyday life?"

If that story about Aaro saying he couldn't live on a Cabinet Minister's salary then I suspect, yes he has. Although I can't remember if the source was any good.

4/03/2008 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Conti can fuck off.

4/03/2008 10:32:00 AM  

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