Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Shazia's Week Columnist of the Year: I'm Advised to Bring a Security Guard to Pakistan and to Keep My Jokes Halal

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Shazia's Week Columnist of the Year: I'm Advised to Bring a Security Guard to Pakistan and to Keep My Jokes Halal

Article excerpt

I'm in America. I walked into a Hollywood office this afternoon and the first question someone asked me was, "Is it true that Gordon Brown has commented on a radio scandal in England?" "From what I've read, this seems to be true," I replied. "Is it a big scandal? Is there not a recession in England? Hasn't there been an earthquake in Pakistan? Is there a war in the Congo? Isn't America on the brink of a life-changing election?" The inquisition continued ... All of a sudden I know how Americans feel when they travel outside their country. They as individuals are held accountable for their leader's mischief I was standing in this office, expected to give an explanation for the behaviour of Britain's comedians and their Prime Minister, The man squealed, "It's on the front of Variety magazine!"

Apparently Gordon Brown took a few days off from policing comedians to shake hands with some former al-Qaeda operatives in Saudi Arabia this week. Saudi Arabia's strategy for deradicalisation of extremists is a bit like Butlins in the desert. They have access to a gym, jacuzzi, three meals a day and 100 clerics. Apparently it has a success rate of So to go per cent and no one has been suspended. Perhaps Gordon is thinking about outsourcing the rehabilitation of fanatical radio presenters to Riyadh.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

There is no conversation in America other than the election. Tom Cruise could ring up Victoria Beckham and leave a message on her answering machine, saying he'd slept with both her husband and her dog and it wouldn't even make the Orange County Gazette.

Flower sellers on the highways have been replaced by human noticeboards. I saw a woman standing on the street in denim hot pants and high heels with a sign saying "Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11". A man in a suit was holding a big placard on Sunset Strip which read, "If you're not voting Obama get the fuck out of California". …

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