I commented a few weeks ago on the extent to which age has not withered the excellent early 1990s Chris Morris radio show On The Hour in the slightest. A friend remarked to me the other day about the way in which today’s headlines (“Arafat Released From Three-Month Siege of Office”, that kind of thing) sound as if they have come straight out of OtH. But the best Morris moment came last week when John Prescott launched his daffy new schemes for regional government, at a press conference with a large slogan printed behind him, “It’s Your Region”. Do you remember the jingle to introduce the “regional news” segment of OtH?
“It’s your region, it’s your region, it’s your region
It’s your region, you know where it is and how to spell its name”.
For satire to remain topical is always impressive, but for politicians to construct heffalump traps for themselves that have been spotted and ridiculed ten years in advance is quite remarkable.Here in Oxford we are considered part of the South East. Except for legal affairs, when we used to be a part of the Oxford and Midlands circuit. And on maps of Thomas Hardy’s “Wessex”, Oxford (aka “Christminster”, Jude the Obscure, etc.) makes it into the top right-hand corner. For policing purposes we’re ensconced in the Thames Valley. Sometimes Oxford feels like an appendage to London, since the buses are fast, regular and cheap — but we never get to be considered part of the metropolis, on any of the Government’s blueprints. And for many people, of course, we’re off in a world of our own.
So much for our strong sense of regional identity. Still, if the people of Kent and Surrey and Sussex — areas with which we have almost nothing in common, but who may more understandably have a sense of belonging to “the South East” — want to gang up on us in a referendum, they will get to abolish Oxfordshire County Council and replace it with direct rule from Guildford or somesuch. And from the Government’s point of view this will count as replacing “bureaucracy” with “democracy” and “returning power to the people” as part of their ongoing programme of “devolution”. The idiots; the fools.
Martin wrote [15.5.2002]: My own view on Oxford is that it has missed a number of regional boats, and sits at the strange interstices of English life. It is the North-western-most bit of the ‘Home Counties’, the Eastern-most bit of the West Country, and the most Southern bit of the Midlands. Its car manufacturing past puts it in line with the Midlands, its preponderence of rich white folk lines it up with the Home Counties, and its natives’ accents make it sound like the West Country. I never quite managed to reach a satisfactory solution to this problem, and am glad to see that I’m not the only one.
Tom wrote [15.5.2002]: re. On The Hour‘s ability to predict the future, the most excellent Need To Know runs a semi-regular “Life Imitates Onion” feature. All of the links I can find now seem to be dead, apart from the matched pair of Christoper Walkens here and here. Not the finest…