Donald is not welcome here….but Strictly evidently is!

by georgehep

I admire Juli Briskman .  When out for a bike ride, she gave a rude one finger salute  to Donald Trump as his motorcade drove past  on way back from Trump National Golf Club in Sterling Virginia. She caught up with the President’s car at the traffic lights and repeated the gesture, which she says was completely out of character.

Briskman  lost her job as a marketing executive  and was shunned by her the yoga club but kindred spirits raised $100,000 for her online.

I applaud ordinary people who make spontaneous gestures to stand up for their beliefs. Juli Briskman does not have a history of political activity.  It was a spur of the moment decision to show her dislike of the President of the United States. Such chance incidents can change lives. Briskman  now talks of finding a more worthwhile job where can work for political change.

I hope I would be as brave in a similar situation.  In every day life, we may have to choose in an instant whether to speak up, for example in challenging a misogynist or racist or remark.

Last week Time magazine announced their ‘Person of the Year’ to be  the silence breakers who had spoken out against sexual harassment. It is reported that Donald Trump was expecting to receive the accolade. Their bravery seem set to change attitudes and behaviour.

We must chip away at Donald Trump and his ilk; the wealthy, powerful men who think they can do what they like and get away with it. Trump’s behaviour licenses others to abuse women, retweet extremist texts and be audacious without regard to the consequences. One of them will drive down your street one day soon.

Small acts of protest add up and they also make us feel better. I bet Juli Briskman doesn’t regret it. There is the smallest of opportunities to protest  in relation to Donald Trump’s forthcoming state visit to the United Kingdom. It takes 30 seconds to sign the online petition at 38 Degrees calling for his visit to be cancelled.

I know we should listen to people with contrary views and treat them in a civil manner. But Donald Trump is a horrible man in his personal behaviour who professes racist, white supremacist views and feathers the nests of the very rich. He has pulled out of the climate accord and has now disgusted me by irresponsibly destroying any chance of peace in the Middle East. He is not a man we should deal with.

So say it loud and say it clear, Donald Trump’s not welcome here.

But Strictly is…..

Now let me admit to the limit of my political activism.  I have my seat booked on the sofa next Saturday for the final of Strictly Come Dancing. I am a man with two left feet who hardly know how to work the television remote control, so why am I hooked on Strictly?

I am not alone. 11 million people tune in and have been doing so  for the past  fifteen seasons of the show.  When the cultural history of the present time comes to be written, there will be some explaining to do. Here’s my view of Strictly’s success  in, as they say, no particular order:

It is brilliantly produced television with stunning sets and dazzling costumes. The band is an unsung hero. Tess and Claudia may be paid a fortune, if less than a male compere, but they never miss a beat.  The show harks back to the days of live entertainment like  Sunday Night at the London Palladium, which Brucie also compered, and which all the family can enjoy.

We must believe  that with enough application we could all fulfil that ambition to star on stage even if we are not in the first flush of youth – like Debbie – or do not have a  dancer’s build – like Susan.  The aspiration is commendable and transfers to other parts of life.

We love competitions and we strangely identify with losers. The couple who have “got to leave us this week” get all our sympathy and tears in the closing moments of the show … and then they pop up on Take Two the following night.

It is slightly saucy and raunchy and keeps the red tops in copy all week. Did Emma and A.J. find love and did Daisy lead Louise into becoming the latest victim of the Strictly curse? Don’t you  love the salacious gossip, darling.

We also like the predictability. Just like Cilla’s Blind Date, the programme is formulaic and works off a limited template.

But don’t be taken in. The best dancer does not always win, as Greg Rutherford complained last year. In the long jump, the athlete who jumps furthest wins as there is no public vote to distort the matter. Charm, character and colour of skin all matter. Sadly, the public has not warmed to Alexandra this year even though she tops the leader board.

The viewers are somehow drawn into the all embracing and glamourous  Strictly bubble.   The departing celebrity always says it has been the best time of his or life and the irritating Strictly jingle goes round in our head all week.

So, keep dancing. Strictly is good escapist fun that gets us away from the nightmare of  President Trump. Cast your vote on Saturday night but don’t forget to sign the petition about his state visit too.

Published in Newcastle Journal on Tuesday 12th December