We all do it. Don’t tell me you don’t. An idle coffee break, or that lazy forty five minutes just before The One Show. What would you do if you were Queen for the day? I would:
1. Abolish the ukelele
2. Make a Frenchman cry
3. Shave off what paltry remains of hair Phil Tufnell possesses
4. Get religion off public transport.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses that have recently started blocking up all the exits of Oxford Circus tube station every rush hour are only witnessing a series of disgruntled commuters who wish to elbow them out of the way. At 8.12am on a Monday, no one on London Underground wants to hear about Judgement Day. Too many of us are en route to a building where our employers judge us, and anyway, Judgement Days are SO last millenium. That’s the JW’s tactic, I reckon. They get you when your soul is at its lowest ebb, first thing on a slightly hungover morning, when your sleep deprived mind is dreaming of a better life. After all, the JW’s are never there when anyone is actually going home, because that is when we feel happy. “The end is near! It’s the end of the line!” their faintly ungrammatical literature promises. Well, they’re wrong. It’s not the end of the line because everyone knows the Victoria Line terminates at Brixton. Duh.
Recently I was opposite a faintly sickmaking advert for sex buddies. Oh no, hang on, it was internet dating, you know the one for people who are too ugly or terrified to chat up strangers in pubs. But this was no ordinary match.com scenario, my friend. It was for a faith-based internet dating group. Now, whilst I am not against that at all, I found their statement not only objectionable, but utterly devoid of meaning. “Christians make better lovers” it said. Do they? How many Hindus or Sikhs has this poster had intercourse with? Have I missed some demon cunnilingus tips in the Book of Apostles or something? Shall I carry out some market based research on this? As a Jew I found this mildly upsetting, not to mention a falsehood : you only need a brief perusal of the novels of Mr P Roth to see that we are, as a people, a vibrant mix of perversions, onanism and hair. But the paucity of the statement was peculiar : on what basis are you judging whether someone is a better lover dependent on whether or not they follow a religion where a carpenter became a messiah? This website is called Christians Connect. Or something. But you bear this in mind : somewhere there is a timid, churchgoing man about to go on his first date in six years, terrified that the Pentecostal lady he is about to take out for a light Italian meal will expect bizarre types of horizontal bedroom acrobatics. as promised in the poster. She could sue trading standards if not. After the “Christians Make Better Lovers” claptrap it goes on to produce such vomit-worthy stuff as say that “Christians believe in love” and that to “Love one another” is in a Christian’s code. Is it? What about the code of the other world faiths? Does that sentiment not exist? Oh yes, of course it doesn’t silly me! All those violent, hating Buddhists, eh? It’s a fucking outrageous advert. Apparently Christian Connect say it is a joke, but even so it isn’t even a funny one, so what is the point? They should have made a better joke. (Jewish jokes tend to be better, perhaps they could have asked us for one of ours?)
On the Christian Connections website it states “Those in small churches often find it hard to meet enough single people” (why? Are they hiding behind the altar?) Surely if you have a religion then the first point of call to locate a husband would be the church. The one thing you are guaranteed to locate inside a church is Christians. Just like in the 1970s the one thing you were guaranteed to locate within the Geography department of a minor boy’s prep school would be a gentleman sadist with latent paedophilic tendencies. It’s their lair. It’s my guess that this was the original marketing ploy designed by the Romans in the first century AD. “Climb on board this bizarre Levantine sect cult – we call it Christianity! At least one climax guaranteed you lucky little lady – just sign on at the third chariot on the left”.
There’s at least one other religious dating website (at least I think it’s religious) which is so covert and insiduous it fails to mention the religion it represents (my money’s on Occultists) but it doesn’t really matter which one it is because all these posters make you want to throw up. Whilst I understand that some people are too stupid to Google “Where can I find people to date who might be of the same faith as me?” and need this glaring posters, the whole thing is faintly bizarre.
Eighteen months ago, The Core Issues Trust were banned from using the sides of London buses to advertise gay therapy in a direct response to, and using the phrasing and colouring of, a Stonewall campaign that had just run. Thinking that the sentiment of Stonewall’s “Some people are gay. Get over it.” was threatening somehow and might make people want to be divinely gay just because of what they had seen down the side of a No 98, Anglican Mainstream rubbed its three brain cells together to produce “Not gay, ex-gay, post-gay and proud! Get over it!” which promoted spiritual and pastoral therapies to “cure” gay people, in an advert that made little sense to anyone on the planet. I have met many gay people. However, I am yet to meet a “not gay”, or “ex-gay”, or perhaps, most compellingly, “post-gay” person. I have a “post-man” but somehow I don’t think that’s the same thing. “Post-gay” sounds like a historical period – like post-war or a Victorian mode of transportation – post-chaise.
Boris Johnson banned the advert that the Core Issues Trust had created, stating it was offensive to gays.
Unsatisfied with this, and believing that they had been treated unfairly, the Core Issues Trust stated that Boris Johnson had unlawfully used his position as Chairman of Transport of London to get the advert banned. They stated Johnson had used the banning of the advert for political gain : he had done it shortly before the 2012 Mayoral elections and then telephoned The Guardian to tell them he had done it. So, as far as I can tell Johnson assured a newspaper’s reporters that London was not Sochi, and therefore not a suitable stage for gay “cure” propaganda and then attended an election. Arrangements had also been made for Johnson to attend a Stonewall hustings the next day.
Johnson now has to go to the High Court to meet charges of banning this advert “improperly”.
Let’s be clear : Stonewall is a charity. It works to ensure legal, social and cultural acceptance of all LGBT rights and eliminate prejudice. It works to provide ordinary civil rights already granted to those who have them simply by the fact they’ve been born heterosexual. If a High Court seeks to define Boris attending a Stonewall hustings as political impropriety (there’s that Victorian word again…) is he also going to be accused of touting for votes from women who have had breast cancer if Marie Curie turn up? Or of chasing the recovery vote if his hustings was to be sponsored by Alcoholics Anonymous? Not really. At what stage can a debate between a) accepting people and b) people who clearly have no ability to accept people, be played on a level playing field? Anyone who refers to a person as “post-gay” needs their head examining. Perhaps the most sinister thing about this case is that a basic affront to human rights, as attempted by the Core Issues Trust, has been turned into a political act. To use advertising to encourage bus travellers to punish a man for wanting to sleep with another man is not a political act. It’s an inhuman one.
So, if I was Queen for the day, that’s what I’d do. Give the Queens a break. In addition, you’ll notice that the two examples I have given you today regarding religion on public transport have nothing to do with the word of God at all. They are both selling sex, or lack thereof. Because sex is the great litmus test : sex is the one thing that religions get a bit fuzzy around the edges about. Only the Witnesses of Jehovah weren’t somehow sex obsessed in my sojourn around London’s religious fringes. Perhaps religious advertising should come to terms with a home truth and admit they’re really just sex obsessed, and – like sex – be absolutely banned on public transport.
Please return to The London Bluebird if you enjoyed this. This blog is updated every other Thursday, so we look forward to seeing you on Thursday 20th February. Thank you.