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Spuistraat, Amsterdam, late July

Wholly Shitty
We were sad to learn of the untimely death in June of Holby City actress Laura Sadler. The 22 year-old rising starlet fell from a balcony. The saddest part of all, however, is that we understand the rest of the cast are still alive. Art Malik was unavailable for comment at time of going to press, but did mention something about 'five pills for a tenner'.

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It’ll be
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‘Theatreland is a square mile of pure theatrical quality’ – say Bill Kenwright or Cameron MacKintosh-type West End impressarios. Funny, we had trouble finding any quality in among the Mamma Mia-Our House-We Will Rock You cock operas or dreary comedies. Bear this in mind when someone next asks you to ‘take in a show’

Overture… All this fighting talk of imminent attacks on our Godless, Allah-less, 24-hour-don’t-give-a-feck capital, also Koran as ‘erotic poohpit of motherless white bisexual devils’, has led me to conclude that we should be prepared to reason with our terroristic friends (should they present themselves a short while before things get going), and dissuade them from filling the Tube with toothpaste and consider something entirely more worthwhile. Banking on their (whoever they are – the more the merrier) intimate minicab-type knowledge of the West End (indeed, so close to Soho you just know there’s got to be some sort of innate theologically-vindicated loathing for the infinite production of crapulent crassitude that manifests itself in the rarefied atmosphere of sex shops, Swedish strippers and over-priced coffee houses), I have a modest, yet worthwhile, proposal to make them: Take out the theatres.

I’ve nothing against plays. In fact, some of my best friends are plays. Just not ones written by Ben ‘Menstruation-Boy’ Elton, or featuring songs by ‘Boy’ George or ‘starring’ Gyles Brandreth (too horrible to be true? Think again as you shell out your pitiful packet on ‘Zipp! 100 Musicals in 90 mins!’ – a hyper-ironic, uber-filth fest of untold proportions, no doubt). What the hell are these ‘theatre’ things, their oversized billboards shitting hyperbole from every turn at innocent passers-by? ‘Awesome’, ‘Astonishing’, ‘Mind-blowing’. That’ll look appropriate backlit by cluster bombs and soundtracked by ambulance sirens. These pissy ‘theatre’ creations are everywhere in London it seems, marinating in mediocrity like rat brothels in their own feculence, rammed with filthy old ladies from Margate who’d like nothing more than to have it off with a randy tom-’Cat’ down some dirty West End alley or fellate roller-booted over-made-up tossers in some slobberish dream-sequence (yes, I know these both got put down…but there’s still nothing more 80s than musicals).

I present to you the not-very-controversial claim: Endlessly running musical plays about French poverty, Swedish pop and whatever else day-trippers subject themselves to have not well served the collective imagination. In fact, scientists have frequently proved that long-term use of musicals with regard to their aural, visual and oral stimulation have led to the unfortunate births of many left-handed hunchbacked children, cancer of the noumenon and an inability to spell the word ‘troilism’ (Cf. ‘Break a leg, or Your child: Musicals and their perilous effects’, Pilular & Briskett, Old Scientist, 2000).

Everybody knows that central London costs several pacific islands per square metre. Hell, if even McDonalds can’t take the pace and is considering pulling out of Oxford Street etc (if only to be replaced by their classier-looking but equally dubious, and, in fact, part-McDonalds owned counterparts, Prat à Manger) then it’s clear that the land value of theatres is immense. And, it seems, on every corner there’s another one – yet another cultural anomaly whose ads you see smeared with chewing gum in all the wrong (right?) places whenever they appear by the side of the tube escalators.

So, culture-sensitive dirty bombs in place; lock on the front row. Bam! There goes several thousand pounds worth of Bingo club memberships. Turn to the stage…Bam! An entire generation of over-enthusiastic sell-out actors and actresses saved from a lifetime of car insurance commercials and low-cost loan promotions. A whole host of conveniently placed theatres now on fire, Andrew Lloyd-Webber running screaming from Her Majesty’s Theatre, blood pouring from every fat, over-fed orifice – ‘no, no, they mustn’t find out that it was me behind that mask. All these years I hid my ugly muzzle behind some piss-poor organ playing and hysterical cape-wearing!’ Too late, Webby – no more amazing technicolour dreamcoats, no more squealy cats, no more deeply dubious tales of GIs and Vietnamese poontang.

What now for these sad, empty-hulled pits of lumpen-culture? How about something worthwhile? Things that don’t run for 57 years and do nothing but feed the depraved sodden-pantied lust of mustachioed grandmothers? I’m talking Culture with a capital ‘K’ here. Yes, boys and girls – forget terror – now’s the time to inject some real civilisation into London!

Intermezzo… As we all know, it’s all too easy to criticise. Perhaps you’re thinking that there’s really nothing wrong with the aged and endlessly valuable (if broken-legged and a bit small) members of society enjoying a little time out with a coach ride, some popcorn and a little light humour. After all, we’re not a million miles away from things that (some) of da yoof like to do too. I hear sing-a-long the Sound of Music is very popular among my more anally-inclined camp comrades, and often (I’m given to understand) many high-jinx result from dressing up like a twat and going to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Like getting mistaken for a prostitute. Or a twat.

But really, I’m thinking ‘all this fine space, all these sad lonely lost souls with fuck all much else to do after pubs shut EVEN IN A BLOODY HUGE CITY LIKE LONDON’. It’s not fair on anyone that all this time, money and space should be wasted on filling the existential voids of visitors with shite about magical cars or Disney on ice. Another world is possible! And all the world’s a stage, after all….

Finale… So what now for the theatres? You can even keep the bloody musicals if you like, but please, let them be seven-day Stockhausen cycles, or Fisting Extravaganzas (starring the front bench of the Conservative Party) with musical accompaniment by Whitehouse. So you want to see the Loin King on ice – sorry, all the big cats have been killed by bombs! Go and see Heiner-Müller’s Waterfront Wasteland Medea Material Landscape with Argonauts on ice instead!

And then there’s real kulchural cross-pollination…. Ready, Steady, Cook co-ordinated by Otto Muehl, culminating in the bloodbath and sacrifice of each team in a strict rotation, depending on the card-based decision of the audience; re-enactments of the film-aversion bit in Clockwork Orange, now with pictures of every gardening and cooking presenter in place of the ultra-violence (kultur should enlighten, don’t you think?).

For the real purists, there’s all of Beckett’s plays performed in slow-motion (come for a week or don’t come at all, no cushions allowed), a projected 30-year real-time run of the Stanford Prison Experiment, all exits blocked, and the ever-popular IMAX version of Rose West’s Memoirs (‘the childhood days’).

At least then you can get back on the coach, pants dry but strangely educated, and have truly experienced all the culture London can throw up at you.

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