Magazine article The Spectator

Low Life: Jeremy Clarke

Magazine article The Spectator

Low Life: Jeremy Clarke

Article excerpt

I was sitting between mother and daughter on the sofa, and we were having a 'wee night' as Glaswegians put it. Having a wee night roughly means 'celebrating'. Yesterday the daughter finished the final exam of her English degree. On the low table in front of us were three gin and tonics, two packets of fags, a souvenir ashtray from Dracula's castle in Transylvania, a packet of transparent French cigarette papers, a plastic syringe with hash oil rammed up one end, a disposable lighter, a portable Bluetooth speaker, and an open laptop. Mother and daughter were taking it in turns to choose music videos on YouTube. So far we'd enjoyed an hour of 'girl power' classics -- Gloria Gaynor, Miley Cyrus, Whitney Houston -- during which the conversation was about babies, perfumes, bras, depilation, the pleasures of the companionship of gay men, and the sheer silliness and gullibility of heterosexual males.

After the girl-power music hour, we looked at some video clips posted on Facebook. We watched a Welsh collie doing yoga on a mat with its owner; an athletic baby climb a two-storey safety gate; and a compilation of clips of various household and exotic pets embracing their owners with apparent deep affection. The daughter said that she and her generation want the whole world to be like one of these cute Facebook videos, a world of fun and love and an absence of nastiness. Then she showed us how the dating app Tinder works, flicking the young men's photos to the left to reject them and very occasionally -- about once in 50 photos -- flicking a photo to the right to 'like' him. Both her and her mother were scathing about the majority of the chaps' appearances, finding something absurd to jeer about with pretty much every single one. They didn't like this one's hat. That one had eyes like a rapist. This one looked a bit neddy. 'Ned' is Glaswegian for an aggressive young working-class male. So 'neddy' means something like 'common', presumably.

After that we watched the daughter's favourite scenes from the musical Chicago. The first song-and-dance clip was a lot of aggressive-looking women in a prison cell dancing and singing about how and why they had murdered their male partners. One chap had given offence by drinking beer and chewing gum. For that he'd got both barrels. He had it coming, they chorused. He only had himself to blame. …

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