Toodle-oo, Cool Britannia

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No less a figure than Joan Collins—Emmy nominee, Golden Globe and People's Choice winner, and a woman who can without exaggeration describe herself as "first and foremost an actress, but also a best-selling author, an accomplished producer, a successful entrepreneur and a devoted mother"—channels 1976-era Johnny Rotten in lamenting the decline and fall of England (which she pointedly refuses to call "The UK"). Citing "a particular incident," Collins writes in the Daily Mail that she has recently realized "London is no longer the 'seat of civilised society' that the world once considered it to be" and Great Britain is a civilization "destroy[ing] itself from within."

Was the particular incident the horrific subway and bus attack of July 7? The attempted copycat attack of July 21? Civil liberties concerns raised by Tony Blair's proposed crackdown on extremists? No, in the biggest letdown since Dynasty's infamous "Moldavian Massacre" denouement, it turns out:

My husband Percy and I were at a ball at the Grosvenor House Hotel—a black-tie event attended by the socalled 'elite' of the city.

As Percy held the door open to let me through, a 6ft tall, middle-aged, horse-faced male pushed past me, trod on the hem of my dress and rushed outside to climb into the taxi that the doorman had waiting for us.

This was a person who should, or at least looked like he should, have known better. The cause of his behaviour? The awful pervasive disregard that we have for civility today.

That's not Percy Dovetonsils, by the way; it's the 72-year-old star's 40-year-old hubby Percy Gibson. Nor is this the worst Collins has seen. Her queenly shoulders and heaving embonpoint shuddering with disgust, she goes on to testify:

I witnessed young, drunken yobs roaming the streets kicking cars, screaming insults, pushing people and even pushchairs out of their way, attacking each other viciously and then turning on the police when they tried to maintain order.

THE WHOLE scene evoked the image of hordes of inebriated Vikings sacking devastated towns. Even during the day, feral mobs roamed the cities with absolute disregard for anyone else's property or well-being. Traditional virtues of male chivalry and female propriety were very far from view.

What has brought on this Clockwork Orange nightmare vision at a time when London, like plenty of urban areas in the United States, is by most measures doing much better than it was even back in the sixties, when Collins got run over by an inconsiderate driver in Star Trek's legendary "City On the Edge of Forever" episode? It's unclear, but last year, Collins was so dismayed by her civilization's decline that she put aside her linguistic quibbles and became either a supporter or "patron" of the UK Independence Party. Since then, she's announced her reconciliation with the Tories, and idle minds are speculating that she's going to be approached to run for Parliament on the Conservative ticket. "I think I'd rather write books," is Collins' non-committal reply. For the record, I wish Collins the best on her upcoming novel, and fully concur with the proprietor of the Joan Collins In Fur site that when she's wrapped in a dead animal, the old bag looks "gorgeous, sexy, devious and very dominating."

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  1. hmm .. i have just peaked through the window of my London home ..

    alas there is no ‘drunken yobs roaming the streets kicking cars, screaming insults, pushing people and even pushchairs out of their way, attacking each other viciously and then turning on the police when they tried to maintain order’

    at all .. shame .. there is nothing on TV so would be something to watch

    but the good news is .. i didnt see joan collins either .. so the world must be getting better

    it seems the streets are still safe here .. phew

    if you do here that joan is coming back let me know .. i will keep my kids inside

  2. we look to los angeles for the language we use, london is dead london is dead. — morrissey

  3. erm Morrissey was born in manchester ..

    .. of course he doesnt like London

    tiz the north / south divide lad !

  4. I give this a D minus on the snarkometer.

    Not mentioned by Tim was the most significant part of her article, which was that she quoted Will Durant in laying out her case.

    Good luck getting a yob to do that.

  5. Hmm, cool britannia… I may be showing my age, but was that a subtle Bonzo Dog Band reference?

    I have to know.

  6. DF, I was less disappointed. I really was prepared for the punchline: “…and the champagne was WARM, of all things!”

    Yobbos? No worse in 2005 than in 1965; it’s just they can now afford to take the bus out of Shepherd’s Bush and Brixton to the parts Collins inhabits.

  7. London was never more insufferable than when an English team won a big UEFA game. I wanted to burn Islington down, just so all those drunken lads (and laddish girls – the worst!) would go away.

    But it’s a pretty nice city in general.

    On the other hand, her writing, in her own voice, has a loveliness to it. Can’t you just hear her saying “THE WHOLE scene evoked the image of hordes of inebriated Vikings sacking devastated towns”! Imagine her speaking it, with the capital words indicating her emphasis. I love it!

  8. …Vikings sacking devastated towns…

    What an incredibly stupid statement. If they had acted like Vikings she’d be dead.

  9. Hakluyt-At the risk of prompting a knife attack, not really. Most evidence actually suggests that the Vikings were not nearly so murdersome as we have been led to believe by contemporary accounts; had they been not only would the Vikings not have been nearly so interested in colonization, they also wouldn’t have left people around to write descriptions of how terrible the Vikings were. If being entirely truthful in her description then it’s actually rather apt, if toned down to reflect modern fears of law enforcement.

    Of course, given the fact that she’s demonstrated repeatedly that she’s utterly full of crap, it’s a purely academic point.

  10. A civilization that doesn’t kiss the ass of Joan Collins is clearly a civilization in decline.

  11. Paging gaius marius! Paging gaius marius! Please report to Londonorium ASAP!

  12. Joan looked hottest on the Space: 1999 episode she did, as well as in the awful Decameron movie.

    Though I am by no means a saint, I do find myself noticing the lack of garden variety manners among the younger folk. This weekend alone brought a number of cars pulling up to nearby houses and leaning on the horns (15-20 seconds each), and a neighbor playing some particularly vile hip hop at midnight, at a volume so high that I, from some distance away, could clearly hear the beer-fueled voice of the “singer” describing in detail his plans for the genitalia of several female aquaintences. Lovely.
    Civility should be instilled in children through regular beatings. When I see a parent do nothing when their spawn call them “retarded” and let loose a string of colorful invectives, I consider THAT child abuse. Raising a child to believe that such behavior is acceptible is a sure way to insure their lives are unpleasant.

    Let’s bring back duelling!

    As for Joan, I’m certain the dress whose hem was trodden upon probably was worth more than my yearly salary, and I too would probably be pissed if it got stepped on.

  13. Joan looked hottest

    I seem to remember some awful Hammer Horror vehicle wherein she could hardly contain herself, the poor girl. Almost made me want to go out and buy a steak and kidney pie as a tribute to English girls.

  14. Well, I will say I am amazed at how acceptable and common public drunkeness is in England. Last time I was over, we were at dinner and at the next table one guy was so drunk he passed out in his chair and neither his mates nor the manager could wake him up. His friends were effed up too, just screaming at the guy but he wouldn’t move. Same trip I spent some time in some rural villages in the north, I was shocked at the packs of 14- and 15-year-olds roaming around, completely shitfaced and falling all over each other. I was witness to an embarrassing scene in which a pair of waifs heckled the owners of an Indian restaurant (I gorge myself on Indian whenever I’m there).

    I’ve spent a fair amount of time stumbling the late-night streets of Manhattan myself, and I’ve never seen anything like some of the stuff I’ve seen in London. The worse you might see in NY is somebody getting sick, but in general it’s all about keeping cool and holding it together. In England you can get as crocked and out-of-hand as you want and nobody minds.

    Not to say the British aren’t hospitable; generally the people are quite nice.

  15. In a recent discussion, myself and three bored co-workers (all male) were rhetorically discussing which old women we would “not kick out of bed.”
    We narrowed it down to a threesome of Joan Collins, Lauren Hutton, and Barbara Eden. I then pointed out that such a gathering would place one in bed with over two hundred and ten years worth of women, which unnerved us all.


  16. Paging gaius marius! Paging gaius marius! Please report to Londonorium ASAP!
    Comment by: thoreau at August 8, 2005 06:16 AM

    Gaius is unable to take your call right now as he is busy being channeled by Joan Collins. Please leave a message at the beep.

  17. My pop culture-o-meter is seriously whacked. I didn’t realize Joan Collins actually is English; I’d always thought she was just some snobby bitch who faked an English accent. Learn something new every day. What would i do without reason?

  18. City on the Edge of Forever isn’t one of my favorite Star Trek episodes, although objectively, the writing and story is good (despite being gakked up by numerous rewrites by Gene Roddenberry and others, according to Harlan Ellison, the original author). maybe the writing is too good to be a Star Trek episode, that’s why I don’t like it.

    also, I never could wrap my head around Joan Collins as a sex symbol. I’m too young, I guess.

  19. a 6ft tall, middle-aged, horse-faced male pushed past me

    Another sign of British civilizations’ decline is that adult women who are more than old enough to know better use insulting phrases like “horse-faced” when referring to their fellow Britons.

  20. As Stephanie Tanner might say, “How rude!”

    Manners are something that has to be taught, but really what it comes down to is a general respect for other people. While people have always been selfish, it seems that it used to be considered a bad thing. Kids are treated like they’re the center of the universe, that they can do no wrong, and that their shit not only doesn’t stink but actually smells like roses. It’s no wonder they grow up to be assholes.

    On the flip side, Collins doesn’t really know the reason for the louts behaviour, pervasive disregard for civility aside. It’s entirely possible that there was some sort of emergency he needed to attend to immediately. If being self-centered is one sign of the decline of civilisation, then surely automatically assuming the worst of people is another.

  21. … husband named …

    ….. PERCY???????

    nuff said.

    Stretch: go to your room. You shall be punished for citing “Full House” and for mixing brit and us spelling (behaviour and center). Ruthless will be there shortly to admister the noam chomsky blow up doll humping extraction.

    🙂

  22. I’m not English, but I can trace my yobbish behavior from watching her cat fight with Linda Evans.

  23. Hmm, cool britannia… I may be showing my age, but was that a subtle Bonzo Dog Band reference?

    I don’t know, as I’ve heard it a few other places, as well, but that’s what popped into my mind 🙂

  24. “As Percy held the door open to let me through, a 6ft tall, middle-aged, horse-faced male pushed past me, trod on the hem of my dress and rushed outside to climb into the taxi that the doorman had waiting for us” says Ms. Collins.

    Well, I happen to know that she is also rude in public. I saw King Lear at the Barbican a few years ago. When the play ended and everyone started to leave, a tiny woman suddently stopped on the stairs, which stopped her entire 20-person entourage and caused me to nearly TRIP over her. When she turned around, she was about to get a nasty look and possibly a word from me when I suddently realized it was Joan Collins. So the whole crowd POLITELY waited for her and her “people” to get the hell out of the way.

    So now, what is her complaint again?!

  25. And I have no explanation for why I can’t type “suddenly” today.

  26. a 6ft tall, middle-aged, horse-faced male pushed past me

    Another sign of British civilizations’ decline is that adult women who are more than old enough to know better use insulting phrases like “horse-faced” when referring to their fellow Britons.

    Too true. That was probably Prince Charles!

    In a recent discussion, myself and three bored co-workers (all male) were rhetorically discussing which old women we would “not kick out of bed.”

    We narrowed it down to a threesome of Joan Collins, Lauren Hutton, and Barbara Eden.

    Raquel Welch, Ann Margret and Sophia Loren. And Joanna Lumley.

  27. And Stephanie Powers.

  28. maybe the silent “t” confused you?

    jest askin’.

    (it’s like the “golf” “gulf” allophone in danish. g and k are neutralized, so “fog” sounds a lot like… and the “airport is closed due to fog” becomes a comedy number)

  29. Well drf, as a spelling champion and linguist I’d think myself rather sad if your theory were the case. Seems to be a purely motor skill lack today…

    Not to say your explanation isn’t much more fun!

  30. Stevo: Throw in Jill St. John and Juliet Mills and we’re up to a solid millennium of womanhood.

  31. I’m still trying to digest the notion that we’re getting complaints about the decline of civilization from a woman best known for spending the 80s shouting “BITCH!” and slapping Linda Evans.

  32. is it because you’re still shaking from skydiving??? (jest kidding)

    do you know the “MR Duks/ MR Knott/ SAR: CM Wangs?/ LIB! MR Duks” one?

    Jennifer: the “American Dad” rendition of that scene is hilarious…….

  33. MR Ducks…yup that’s a favorite. Oddly I learned that one in 8th grade algebra class from a teacher who was a concert pianist. Heh. I love interdisciplinarianism.

  34. Drf–

    Yeah, I know. That’s where I got the reference from; I never actually watched an episode of “Dynasty.”

  35. Jennifer: awesome

    Linguist. interdisciplinarianism. ten points. good spelling. grin. that’s cool – still, you could think that math and music somehow could be connected in the old noodle……

    ‘later.
    drf

  36. Perhaps what we’re seeing is the other side of the coin from Robert Heinlein’s “An armed society is a polite society.”

  37. Shem,

    Yes, raiding and trading were dual strategies. However, there are a quite a few dead members of Irish monasteries who would argue that Vikings could be ruthless in their campaigns* – be it in the massive slave trade they fostered or the simple slaughter of their enemies.

    * That these campaigns were also ideological in nature is also well known.

  38. Good riddance to the silly moo. Diana Rigg is far better looking anyway.

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