Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Column, September 13, 2005

THEY want to open a sex shop in Llandudno.
You can see why, it’s an untapped market. The only thing that passes for erotica there is a dawdle through the underwear section at M&S and then you run the risk of having your collar felt by a security guard should you linger too long amid the lingerie. Not that I’m speaking from experience, oh no.
But the burghers of Llandudno are having no truck with an emporium selling erotic DVDs and videos. The town’s mayor said that to do so would ‘bring Llandudno down to Rhyl’s level.’
Hostilities have inevitably broken out over this insult to the good town of Rhyl with explanations demanded, denials issued and letters flying back and forth as if both towns’ councils do not have better things to do.
Whether a sex shop is more suited to Rhyl than Llandudno I will leave you to judge, personally I have thought that Rhyl’s tackiness was of the innocent kiss-me-quick variety rathe than do-something-X-rated-to-me-quick, but there you go.
No, what stopped me in my stride was Coun Parry’s explanation as to why Llandudno was not a suitable venue for a sex shop.
“We don’t want that sort of thing in Llandudno,” she said, “We are a Victorian town, what would our ancestors think? The Victorians had good standards and principles.”
Just which Victorians is she referring to?
The only Victorians I’m aware of consumed pornography on an epic scale. When the new technologies of photography and then the cinema were in their infancy it was not long before Victorians were using them to produce pictures and films of women with not very much in the way of clothing on at all.
The peep show is a gift to us of those straight-laced Victorians.
And if pornography wasn’t enough, prostitution was rife and what’s more child prostitution at that.
Those who claim the Victorians had high standards are confusing the austere image of Queen Victoria with her subjects, who were at it like rabbits.
She may have spent her latter years in widow’s weeds, but her subjects were engaging in debauchery on a scale not witnessed since the fall of Rome.
The Victorians might have had an outward appearance of principle morality, but it was a thin veneer that concealed the suppressed perversion that lurked beneath.
And those who regard the Victorian era as ‘the good old days’ might like to remember that for many working class children it was a time of malnutrition, forced labour, rampant disease and an early death.
Those who hanker for a return to Victorian values really don’t have the first idea what those values were.
Yes the Victorians left us a magnificent civic legacy with the buildings and other works that were built during that time.
But to argue that their morality is in some way superior to ours now is to ignore what a hard, miserable, short life many people endured then.
So, in actual fact, if Llandudno is to be an authentic Victorian resort, it really should be encouraging the proliferation of sex shops.
It might also consider legalising prostitution, bringing back child labour by sending the little hoody-wearing hoodlums up chimneys, and look into the reintroduction of a few Victorian diseases like rickets, cholera and typhoid.
A dark, satanic mill belching a cloud of noxious smoke over the Great Orme would also add to the authenticity.
It might not do the tourist trade much good – but then, they could always go to Rhyl.

IT would be nice to say Anglesey County Council has seen sense in its row with parents over the £60 up-front fee it was demanding for bus fares.
Splitting it £30 now and £30 in January might, to the councillors, seem like a reasonable compromise.
But if you’re a parent you’re being asked to shell out in September, when you’ve just paid for school uniform and all the other essentials, and then again in January, just when you’ve paid for Christmas.
It does make you wonder just how in touch with reality the council is.
The council claims it has listened to representations of those involved. Listening is one thing – taking a blind bit of notice it quite another.
I’ve yet to hear any sort of reasonable explanation offered by the council as to why parents can’t pay on a much more manageable daily or weekly basis.

WATCHING the Ashes this summer , it has been nice to see a set of England supporters who have been able to have a few (or more) drinks and not then go on to riot.
The banter has been barbed, but good natured and the spectacle will have won many new fans for the game.
Channel 4 should take the lion’s share of the praise for this as their coverage has been informative, witty and entertaining throughout. A real lesson that coverage of a sporting event does not need to dumbed down, overloaded with graphics and/or a musical soundtrack.
What a shame then when the English have found something which helps define them as a nation that the whole lot is sold off to Sky where they’ll have to pay through the noise for a satellite dish to see it from now on.
An example of stupid greed by the England and Wales Cricket Board who should have been capitalising on new-found interest in the game by keeping it on free-to-air TV.
But while I’ve enjoyed watching the series, I’ve yet to join the hordes expressing a new-found love of the game. Silly mid-off is as much a mystery to me now as it was when the Ashes began.

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