Monday, 18 August 2008

Prince Charles, the Green Man and why is opinion so important?

Prince Charles has to back up wild claims

Apparently, Prince Charles recently decided to voice off about GM crops, deciding that they are very bad. He would know, obviously. I don't actually dislike Prince Charles, he seems reasonably decent for someone who's had the upbringing he's had, as well as being vilified by the media because he wasn't a younger blonde woman. Controversial? Not any more, surely. You'll hear worse than that on the comedy scene, believe me.

But in what way is Bonnie Prince Charlie an authority on this? I'm sure he's well read, but not to the point where he has the authority to condemn a whole field of potentially world-problem-solving science. Does he have doctorates in genetic engineering and ecology? And I know he's a royal, so honorary ones don't count. But because he's a high profile public figure, his opinion is seen as a genuine argument in the debate against GM foods. I won't even attempt to provide a solution, there's arguments on both sides. GM crops could well save countless lives by producing sturdier crops and minimise environmental damage by reducing the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides. On the other hand, we know what happens when a particularly sturdy organism gets involved with native, less robust ones. The latter tend to be wiped out. Think about Grey squirrels, and their not even GM (or are they...? No, what would be the point? GM squirrels would be bright blue or something, that would be interesting at least).

But it's the way that peoples opinions and beliefs get given such credibility when based on little or no evidence. Freedom of speech is fine. But if I went round telling people that pot-pourri caused depression, I imagine I'd be treated with some scorn. Even if I had the evidence, in that my mother has pot-pourri on her coffee table and when I went to visit her she was in a bad mood. It's my opinion, based on 'logic', but it's clearly wrong. And yet if enough people agreed with me, we'd probably be able to get an investigation done. And that's what worries me, that people who make enough noise can easily harm progress. The religious right tend to do it often, as do organic food brigade. I've said before I want Gm only sections in supermarkets. Imagine it, tomatoes the size of beach-balls, self peeling potatoes, blue bananas, it'll be great.

This is how I think. Which is probably why I was never going to completely enjoy the Green Man Festival.
It's a prestigious festival with a huge fan base, so I was lucky to be allowed to perform there, but with hindsight I was never going to be that popular. Here are several 'highlights' of my visit.
  • I assumed waist-deep mud was an Glastonbury only phenomenon. Apparently, this year was Green Mans turn. When I got home I was in two minds as to whether I should wash my trainers or bake them for a few hours and get some novelty matching plant pots. Somewhere for the daffodils, at least.
  • When portaloos are filled with mud, your mind instantly jumps to the worst possible conclusion.
  • At one point we wandered into an oddly quiet area with tents offering massages and other weird things, then discovered we were in the 'Healing Zone'. My friend Dan then started coughing. Enough said.
  • It speaks volumes about the audience for such an event where, in the middle of a field in Wales, amongst the several food tents, you could get Thali (an assortment of Indian dishes in small amounts favoured by the South Indian community), several kinds of Paella, but you couldn't buy chips for love nor money.
  • The definition of optimism is a solar-powered stage set-up in a muddy field in probably the most overcast country on Earth in the middle of a downpour.
  • Apparently, if a band doing a Ceilidh at 7pm decide they want to do one at 3.30pm as well, they get priority over the comedy acts who've travelled all that way for no money who were already booked in that slot. A prolonged, 40 min Ceilidh with instructions barked by an alarming androgynous lead 'singer' also leaves the audience area (a bit of field) incredibly muddy and the potential audience knackered. So cheers for that you arrogant pseudo-Celtic bastards.
  • Someone doing an analytical science-based comedy set isn't going to go down well when you consider the stage was not twenty feet away from a stall selling 'healing' crystals and a vegan cafe teepee.
  • Apparently, a performers arm band confuses people on security to the point where you can pretty much go where you like. This is useful.
But despite all this, I actually had a good time. Not my thing though, festivals, and I can't really see the appeal. But then I've never been into music and mind-bending drugs. nor am I a fan of holding in my bodily waste all weekend, although this may still be preferable to using portaloos. And at least now, somewhere in London, a lovely young actress named Jessica has a very interesting story about the generosity of Welsh people who used to work with dead bodies, which I'm part of.

If you can, go see Moll Flanders at the Southwark Playhouse in London Bridge. It's a cool venue, sort of like a big Air-raid shelter. And tell Jessica (don't know her surname) that dean and Dan the Welsh comics sent you. She should look suitably freaked out, which should be quite amusing for a minute or two.

1 comment:

Leighsus Christ said...

I agree 100% on your opinions here.

I'm indifferent to Charles, but HATE whenever I hear he's been mouthing off about GM this or microtechnology that.

The only reason people listen to him is because he has HRH at the front of his name, rather than PhD at the end of it.

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