‘I’d like the UN to issue a decree on the age at which one should start pronouncing pop stars’ names sarcastically’
Last week, the Iranian government issued a list of “culturally appropriate” haircuts for Iranian men. Aimed at “confronting the Western cultural invasion”, posters have been distributed to barbers across the country, showing the permissible styles left on offer.
Having now viewed the poster, it seems that, broadly speaking, if an Iranian youth keeps within the hair modes displayed in Happy Days, he will be keeping the ayatollahs happy. There is the “Richie Cunningham” (short back and sides), the “Scott Baio” (deep side parting, fringe swooshed across forehead), and, slightly unexpectedly, what one could call a “Fat Fonz” (a not inconsiderable bouff, worn with a chunky little pair of sideburns).
Of course, this raises questions about just what the Iranian government considers “Western”: on current evidence, a Seventies sitcom version of the Fifties seems to qualify as “resoundingly Middle Eastern”, which, having once tried to get an iPhone charger in Turkey, I can broadly concur with.
But, on a much wider scale, I would like to see governments worldwide following Iran’s lead on this and starting to issue a great many more guidelines on essentially nugatory issues, like the hair thing.
For one, in a world of theoretically infinite choice, I think a lot of indecisive people could do with having most of their choices narrowed down to, “Choose the starter course the government has designed, or go to jail.” I admit, I am thinking mainly of my husband here. He dithers around four options, then desperately asks the waitress what she likes best. It’s embarrassing. I have to put the napkin over my head. JUST HAVE THE PINT OF PRAWNS, LIKE DAVID CAMERON TOLD YOU TO.
The other point in favour of government-approved cultural decisions is that if the government got it wrong, and started putting everyone in unflattering outfits and recommending uncool things, there would be a literal style revolution, and they’d be hounded out by a load of women, gays and boys that look like Mark Ronson, wearing brogues.
Here, then, is what I’d like the UN to start issuing similar decrees on:
1) At what age one is supposed to stop pronouncing the names of pop stars in a straightforward manner, and start saying them awkwardly, sarcastically or even with finger-gesture quote marks instead. In your teens and twenties, you can obviously say “Dizzee Rascal” in a normal tone of voice, like that’s his actual real name and everything’s perfectly normal, hahaha. At some point in your mid to late thirties, however – maybe around the time you have children of your own, who may be, themselves, fans of Dizzee – I think it behoves an adult to start acknowledging that they’re getting a bit embarrassed about all of this, and need some way of expressing it: referring to him as “Mr Rascal” with exaggerated formality, say; referring to modish chanteuse Ke$ha as “Kay Dollar Sign Sha”, or pronouncing “NDubz” with a horrible, Gollumesque swallowing sound where you think the missing vowel should be.
2) Which one was the best Beatle. As it is, obviously, Paul, it would be nice to see everyone who’s got this wrong for so long being thrown down a well, or made to actually listen to Two Virgins – instead of just pretending that they have.
3) Only being able to put stickers on the bumper of your car that are actually true. “Dad’s Taxi”: proof must be made that cash changes hands every time Bethany gets run down to Brownies. “Powered By Fairy Magic”: any trips to Texaco invalidate the claim immediately. “Luke – I am your father”: not even considered valid for people who have children called Luke. You MUST be Darth Vader – making a somewhat incongruous, although I’m sure ultimately explicable, journey back to the Death Star in a Ford Kia – or do 12 months in chokey, minimum. The UN thinks it belittles the dignity of the automobile to have lies all over its arse. It feels this very strongly.
4) Air freshener fragrances. The UN wants a global understanding that both “pine” and “dewberry” have been outlawed as valid smells for a modern house, come 2010. It is no longer acceptable for people’s noses to be confused as to the real date and location they are experiencing – often causing them to believe that they are either a) in a minicab, coming back from a pantomime in Dudley in 1982, and feeling sick after eating too many Revels, or, b) getting off with an indie girl in 1992 who will, eventually, steal your Pavement album. Instead, the UN encourages a chypre, single floral or wood basenote as a MINIMUM requirement.
5) Similarly, the UN will no longer tolerate anyone who has mayonnaise in their sushi. “It’s not a sandwich, guys,” the UN said, sadly. “You just have to get your heads around this. It’s not a sandwich.”