web analytics

A hearty bowl of cultural goulash

This might be an “only in Britain” kind of thing. It’s a Channel 4 documentary television program called Gogglebox. They film families watching television. Watching people watch television. For reals.

You can get a flavor of the show here. Bear in mind this is a fan collection of favorite moments, which might give you a sense of what the boring bits are like.

Which puts me in mind of the very interesting book Watching the English. The author points out that while many, many countries have long-running soap operas, they are usually about rich and glamorous people. British soap operas are all about chavs. It’s extraordinary, when you think about it.

In theory, these two people aren’t chavs. On Gogglebox, they are known as “the posh ones.” They have good accents (a thing of which the British are acutely aware) and they’re usually half sloshed on wine. So. Posh.

In real life, they own a 16 bedroom Grade I listed mansion in Kent which they run as a B&B. It’s called Salutation. It’s on the market. Which might explain why they rented it out for a masked orgy.

The article is weirdly indiscreet about it. A private swinger’s club called Killing Kittens (ew) rented it for the modest sum of £1,700 for the night. Then they charged 60 people £500 apiece to turn up for oysters and champagne and sex in all the nooks and crannies. Of the house.

You know what? Yuk. I’m sorry I typed all that. Just forget I said anything.


Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: May 21, 2014, 11:14 pm

There was this one letter in Penthouse forums. .

Comment from Feynmangroupie
Time: May 22, 2014, 12:05 am

Is that the kind of thing that requires disclosure when putting a house up for sale? You know: murder, suicide, haunting, orgy, major fire? Those types of things?

Comment from dissent555
Time: May 22, 2014, 12:06 am


Yeah, I could use teh Google, but, well, it’s time for dinner …

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: May 22, 2014, 12:44 am

@dissent555 – Chavs. Key quotation from Urban Dictionary:

…a Chav owns mainly sportswear, yet will only break a sweat if running from the police.

Comment from Mrs Compton
Time: May 22, 2014, 1:44 am

Don’t forget the Silver Kittens!

Comment from Bob
Time: May 22, 2014, 1:58 am

Nooks and crannies indeed. Now we know what Thomas’ English Muffins are really all about.

Comment from Bob
Time: May 22, 2014, 2:04 am

I should have suspected. A little light research, courtesy of Google, reveals Thomas is owned by Bimbo Bakeries (Grupo Bimbo SAB).

Comment from Paula Douglas
Time: May 22, 2014, 2:09 am

Hah–I’ve been reading Watching The English. It’s fascinating. Call me the chick with no life, but I love reading about the differences and similarities between Americans and the English. I’ve read a couple other similar books, but Watching the English is presented more as an actual semi-scientific study. I assume the author’s not making stuff up, but I still keep wishing I had a Brit handy to turn to and say, “Is this for real?” The obsession with social class and the lengths people will go to avoid seeming to notice it is especially striking.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: May 22, 2014, 2:56 am

Badass chavs run Robin Reliants.

Comment from dissent555
Time: May 22, 2014, 4:29 am

Thanks, Uncle Al. Yeah, I’m still trying to come to grips with the fact that the culture no longer revolves around my generation. Much more effort is required to keep up. I think the naps are starting to get in the way.

Comment from mojo
Time: May 22, 2014, 7:12 am

“Grade I listed mansion” = money pit of truly stunning proportions

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 22, 2014, 11:19 am

Paula, I read it years ago and it really helped. I don’t know if a Brit would consider it fair, but it all looked right to me. Looking back after some years living here, it still does.

Except one thing that she got exactly wrong and I very nearly wrote to tell her. She was comparing American table manners to British ones and she opined that American manners are designed to make the process of eating quicker.

What, all that switching forks from one hand to another? Quicker? It’s designed to make the process as slow as possible.

Comment from Paula Douglas
Time: May 22, 2014, 2:44 pm

Ah, well, that’s why I have no table manners. And not very many of the other kinds.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: May 22, 2014, 3:15 pm

Well, the Chinese go out of their way to make sure you can eat every dish without any boorish cutting or mixing or other prep-work: it’s all in perfect, bite-sized pieces, fully seasoned, etc. & then they want you to eat with sticks.

Comment from mojo
Time: May 22, 2014, 3:32 pm

Oh, here’s a topic: Farage/UKIP? Thoughts?

Comment from David Gillies
Time: May 22, 2014, 8:02 pm

Had high hopes for UKIP. Now it looks like it’s going off the rails. Apart from Farage (who has blotted his copybook lately with praise of Putin and the egregious Alex Salmond) there’s no-one there except a crowd of the sort of weirdos you really hope don’t buttonhole you in the pub. The Euro elections act as a handy protest vote, because nobody even cares who their MEP is or expects him to be effectual and therefore it’s safe. Come the General Election I expect them to attract Monster Raving Loony Party levels of support. I wish there were an absolutely down-the-line Hayekian minarchist party in the UK, but there ain’t, and never likely to be (the default political stance of most people in modern post-industrial societies is a sort of fluffy kitten version of Nazism).

Comment from Anonymous
Time: May 23, 2014, 3:13 am

Dame Stoat- Surely the term “fluffy kitten version of Nazism” must provide some degree of visual inspiration for you. See what you can come up with, perhaps Puss-in-(Jack)boots or Heil-o Kitty (complete with a little Adolph moustache in lieu of whiskers.)

Upon reflection, lets drop that whole line of thought and try to come up with better in the morning.

Comment from Frit
Time: May 23, 2014, 3:28 am

Stoaty; It was my understanding that all the switching of cutlery from right to left and left to right in the American proper eating protocol started back just prior to the revolutionary war. Apparently, when ‘high society’ people gathered together for dinner parties, the hostess wanted to make sure that none of the fights turned deadly, as there were lots of differing political ideas going around at the time. So it was considered rude to keep the knife in the right, or fighting hand, while eating and talking, as it would be too easy for an animated argument to get punctuated with a sharp point. (No idea if this is accurate, it’s just what I was taught.)

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: May 23, 2014, 9:02 pm

@David Gillies:

…the default political stance of most people in modern post-industrial societies is a sort of fluffy kitten version of Nazism

Well put. I’ll keep that line next to Ronn Neff’s Polite Totalitarianism.

Comment from Steve Skubinna
Time: May 24, 2014, 11:46 pm

The Brits have managed to make boredom into an art form.

q.v. cricket.

Write a comment

(as if I cared)

(yeah. I'm going to write)

(oooo! you have a website?)

Beware: more than one link in a comment is apt to earn you a trip to the spam filter, where you will remain -- cold, frightened and alone -- until I remember to clean the trap. But, hey, without Akismet, we'd be up to our asses in...well, ass porn, mostly.

<< carry me back to ol' virginny