The World According to John Bird
Sex, Money and Politics. Sue and I were privileged last night to watch the master at work at the Leicester Square Theatre. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. John made me chuckle quite a few times, but more than that I smiled continually for two hours.
Long ago I realised that if you can make people laugh, then they’ll listen to you when you’re serious. John has a true talent, presenting the audience with a ‘game of two halfs.' He kept us laughing through the first half of the show, using his own brand of self-deprecating, piss-taking humour to bring to the fore situations that just don’t stack up. John and I share the same views on giving “purpose to comedy,” and this is probably why I write the way I do.
I’d like to say John sobered up his pitch during the second half of the show, but he didn’t. He continued to drink Guinness or Murphy’s or whatever it was at an ever faster rate, and as he got louder and louder there was a very subtle change in consciousness as, amongst other things, he introduced us to the concept of PECC (Prevention, Emergency, Coping, Cure), an acronym he’s developed to demonstrate that the majority of our taxes are spent on Emergency and Coping, as opposed to Prevention or Cure. I’ll allow John to explain it more eloquently; “Most of our poor who need our help hover around ‘Emergency and the Coping’ and are maintained as needful and rarely moved onto the Cure.”
His views on Poverty are enlightening. I hadn’t thought before about how much money it actually costs to become poor. I visit prisons three of four times a year to facilitate workshops for inmates on occupations and careers in the construction industry. By very nature of the venue I can’t exactly leave once my workshop is over, so grab myself a cup of tea and wander around talking to prisoners. Did you know it costs more money to keep someone in prison than to send someone to Eton? With a 70% reoffender rate, the current cost of reoffending is between £9.5 billion and £13 billion a year (the same as hosting the Olympics every year).
Another particular gripe of mine by the way is the Romanians. People who accuse them of being beggars, tramps and thieves no nothing about them. Over 9% of the country’s 22 million population are Romi Gypsies. 70% of these live on less than £3 per day, a huge proportion of them living on sprawling landfill sites because they’ve been ordered to leave their homes by the government. Packs of wild dogs roam and food is often scavenged amongst the rubbish, as are materials to build ‘shacks’ to live in. They build these shacks on top of the rubbish, which is also the children’s playground. There is no electricity and no sewage. You can only claim benefit in Romania if you have a National I.D. card, and for that you need a fixed abode, which a landfill site isn’t. So, convinced that they’re hated in their home country, they’re relocating to Europe. Who can blame them?
However, I’ve worked with a lot of Romanians, I still do, and I’ll tell you they are the nicest people. My canteen girls have the best sense of humour. They have playful, cheeky expressions most of the time, yet even though they’re not ‘Romi’ they have fierce Gypsy eyes when angered. They know English people think they’re Romi, and they take that in their stride, but they’re not.
I don’t necessarily agree with all of John’s views, I’m not supposed to, but with John you can enjoy the ride anyway. He has an aptitude for brilliance, and as well as giving us a great evening out he left us with quite a bit to think about.
I would have loved to have stayed and had a beer with him afterwards, but he had friends there and was going to be busy signing books etc., so I didn’t want to intrude. Although I did feel a bit rude leaving without saying hello. Next time perhaps …..