WINTER draws on (drum roll, cymbals, I thank you) and once again we are breathless with excitement as panto season is upon us.
Excuse me while I’m away to a darkened room with a bottle of whisky and a loaded revolver, I know what I have to do.
I know complaining about panto is akin to shooting Santa from his sleigh, or taking an axe to your Christmas tree, but it’s not all pantos I’m against, just modern panto.
I’m as keen as the next man on your traditional panto, who can complain about a thigh-slapping principal boy winning the heart of his true love. As long, that is, as the principal boy, is a girl.
That’s one of the problems with modern panto, they cast men in the role of principal boy, usually some outcast from a recently defunct boy band.
They can’t do this to panto, to have a boy kiss a girl in the final scene is against nature. In its traditional form it is the only moment in a panto that you can rely upon the dads in the audience paying any attention whatsoever.
But that’s not my main objection. My big problem with present-day panto is the tinkering with the plot and cast that the ‘writers’, for want of a better word, seem to feel they have a right to do.
Here are stories which can trace back their origins for centuries and now you get some jumped-up impresario who thinks he can improve on a plotline that has entertained millions.
They do this in a vain attempt to keep the adult audience engaged and in the foolish belief that it somehow makes panto ‘relevant’ to modern audiences.
And so my predictions for this year’s panto season are as follows:
· Some character somewhere will do a ‘yeah but, no, but’ line a la Vicky Pollard of Little Britain
· Another one will do a Ricky Gervais-style dance routine, thinking that it’s still current, and worse still, that it’s funny when someone other than Gervais does it
· Someone will use the line ‘Am I Bothered Though?’ to utter silence as the youth of the audience and the age of their parents leaves them blissfully unaware of Catherine Tate
· Were it not for the eagle-eyed lawyers protecting the Harry Potter brand he would be swooping on his broomstick into every panto in the land as all pretence of a traditional plot flew out of the window
If you are one of those writers slaving over a last draft of your script save yourself the time, stick to the original plot and characters.
But then for many of the writers, tinkering with the plot is unavoidable because of the cast they have to accommodate.
And this brings me to the other affliction of modern-day panto.
Local radio DJs.
What it is that makes them think a few minutes of inconsequential twitter every day between the pop pap they play gives them any stage presence I’m not entirely sure, but there they are, top of the bill every Christmas.
And there’s so many of them, panto writers are left with no option other than to invent characters with daft names like Razzmatazz, just so local DJ Zak Moron can slap on the greasepaint and puff a little more hot air into his already over-inflated ego.
I have a little experience of these characters and my theory is that somewhere back along the evolutionary tree, just after we came down from the trees, one particularly vain set of monkeys started fiddling with a record deck and stopped developing around about there.
But, Lord help us, at least local DJs have a day job and there are only so many hours a day they can take to the stage.
But they are not the worst thing to appear on the panto stage, oh no, not by a long chalk.
That title belongs firmly to former reality TV contestants.
How did that happen? A bunch of people who have excelled at revealing just how nasty, brutish and thick they really are, get to entertain our kids at Christmas.
You may as well stand outside Walton Prison and wait for the next inmate out and give him a pixie suit and invite him into your home.
The only consolation is that when these buffoons fail in a third-rate theatre, with half an audience, on a rainy January night, perhaps it might just penetrate their numb skulls as to just how talentless they really are.
WHY all the howls of indignation at the prospect of an all-Wales police force?
There are lots of reasons why you need local accountability of your police service – individual communities will have differing crime problems that they will want to raise with local commanders.
But who has suggested that an all-Wales force would change that? You will still have local divisions with senior officers who are answerable to the communities they police.
One senior officer I was talking to about this last week was all for the idea because he was a detective involved in cracking serious crime.
As far as he was concerned the regionalisation could not come soon enough.
He explained that while there are plenty of officers who can pound the beat, ther are fewer detectives who have the mental resources and the experience to deal with serious crime like murder, rape, armed robbery and drug dealing.
Big regional forces, he said, would have access to more of those specialised resources to deal with serious crimes.
As for the rest of the objections, all I can see so far is petty North-South rivalries. It’s also true that an all-Wales force might involve fewer committees overseeing the force and perhaps that might explain some of the squeals of protest.
IT wasn’t long before I was set right by a supermarket worker after I blamed them (supermarkets, not their workers) for society’s ills last week.
One, Miss CJ, wrote in saying: “I have been working in Tesco for just over a year and a half now, I started off in the cafe and now I’m a semi-skilled baker earning £6.15 per hour, time and a half on a Sunday, plus on a bank holiday I’d get time and time and a half, which to me is a good wage.
“Prior to Tesco I was working in hotels earning around £4.50 an hour, no extra pay for working Sundays, bank holidays and Christmas time.
“I look back now and think how did I survive? The North Wales coast is an area in which a lot of jobs do pay the minimum wage, but thanks to Tesco I can take home a decent wage each month and gain more experience.
“I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels the same and could I just remind you that Tesco actually pay the most wage out of the supermarkets.
“I hope they do get to build a store in Prestatyn as this would help a lot of people who are on the minimum wage to gain more experience and have a better wage.”