Monday 6 October 2008

Education, education, education....

Depressed readers of this blog will maybe have noticed that Ross Kemp has been mentioned a few times. His mind seems inelastic, unfortunately, and he delivers his lines like that guy reading out football results on Grandstand. (Always a home win, in case you care - up at the beginning, down at the end. Numbing, excruciating, maddening.) He would need a fair few promotions to reach average, in any event, and I’m usually left despising myself for watching his turgid output.

But did you see how he reacted to the glue people of Kenya? Almost exactly like a human being. He was shocked. I was shocked. And you would have been shocked, too, had you been watching. Which, of course, as a right-minded citizen, you would not have been doing in the first place. Who, after all, watches Ross Kemp on Gangs?

Anyway, these people live in a filthy dump (in a place called Eldoret) and have bottles hanging from their lower lips, constantly feeding themselves glue. Rows and rows of them, glass-eyed, wasted, sitting out life in a forgotten corner of undiluted despair. All of the children – toddlers, too – and all of their parents and more.

From the sample of zombie children he asked, all of them said that what they wanted most was to “go to school”. Why is that so painful? I’m not a great fan of the “don’t complain, some people have got things way worse” line of argument (a kind of pseudo-compassionate schadenfreude), because it makes about as much sense as saying “quit bleating about your broken neck, pansy boy, someone just died in Iraq”. Oh, right, thank you, I think my neck is healed. 

But still, it’s not exactly impossible to imagine asking an impoverished British person, for example - with their access to healthcare, education, housing and government money – so what’s your excuse for giving up, then, Poverty Face? That’s unfair, of course, like I say, and nothing is ever as simple as that. 

This glimpse of the glue people came as (an incidental) part of a programme on gangs, although Kempy made a separate documentary about them (the glue guys) on the back of it. There is an awful lot to wade through before it becomes possible to warm to Ross Kemp, but I’ve a feeling he deserves to be kissed and licked with firm eroticism for highlighting this filthy reality.

If you ever find yourself despairing at the flickering attention spans of those who feed us our news, then you’ll feel nothing but admiration for someone who tries to keep Kenya as a going concern. Watching an addict mother stick a bottle of glue into the mouth of her addict baby is such a grotesque inversion of everything that ought to be held dear that it simply stuns the senses. Reactions to such a thing may vary, I suppose, but this sequence would seem fair:

You stupid monster, what the fuck are you doing?
You can’t do that, can you?
Why would you do that?
Oh dear.

Any anger or revulsion, as ever, would be best directed at the diabolically violent circumstances that drove these people straight into the arms of an unremitting misery in the first place - as opposed to directing it towards their (seemingly) nonsensical and horrible actions once they find themselves there. That’s what I think, anyway, although it takes a moment to adjust.

And Ross Kemp, a hero? Bloody hell. You learn something new every day. If you’re lucky.

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