Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Progress and orange people

There's a crap article in the New Statesman by John Gray knocking the notion of progress. Here's a link, if you must, but it's behind a subcription wall and frankly you'd have to be insane to pay to read a John Gray article. I digress - but having accepted John Gray's general crapness, he has a point: the whole human progress thing is a bit of a mixed bag.

Take the issue of orange people. There are two kinds: the politico-religious sort that wear sashes, and march about in bowler hats and then there is the vast army of literally orange people that have emerged on our Island in recent years.

Of the first kind, one could say that 'progress' - in the form of secularism and the provision of other distractions such as drug-abuse - has diminished their power and there are fewer of them than there used to be. Which is good, because they are generally noisy, bigoted, hold up traffic and are usually pretty damn ugly.

On the other hand, there are (this struck me today) a band of orange people who appear to be multiplying at an alarming rate. To give you the picture of what I'm talking about, some well-known orange people include Dale Winton, Kilroy-Silk and (occasionally) Tommy Sheridan.

Now, what possessed such a large section of the populace, on seeing the examples of orangeness on the telly, to think, "Hey, that looks good - I'm getting myself under a sunbed quick-style"? It's very strange - progress giveth and progress taketh away, and in the case of orange people the net result has been that there are now more of them than at any time in history. This is not good.

Now, you may say, "But perma-tanned may look ridiculous but they do no harm". I beg to differ. Orangemen of the lodge variety may be obnoxious bigots but generally you only have to put up with them for one day in July and I personally have never been accosted by one in the street asking me for a fag in my entire life.

Not so with the literally orange people. In conjunction with the smoking ban, which forces me to pop out during the day I can't relax. For usually during the course of one smoke break one encounters at least one (literally) orange teenager who will shout, "Hoi sur - gonnae geis a fag?". No matter how many times this happens, it is invariably a disconcerting experience. This represents the dark side of the Enlightenment. I say this because it is only advances in science that allows people to be orange at all.

It doesn't do to be dogmatic about these things - a more even-handed assessment of progress is required. Polio vaccinations, good; net increase in orange people, bad.

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