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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Yorkshire Bitter

Last Orders, last night's documentary by American film maker Henry Singer about a working men's club in Bradford, was a genuinely haunting piece of TV. For a start it was content to keep the camera on its subject long enough for them to get a complete sentence out. One of the old men charged with trying to keep this enterprise alive as everything seemed to be conspiring against it actually said "I wish I could be happy again", which is more than your usual soundbite. The young men didn't want to come anymore, the heavy industry had vanished, the supermarkets were offering cheaper beer, nobody was interested in the clubland turns or the Strictly Come Dancing evening and now the smoking ban had hit them like a 2 by 4 in the solar plexus. Every week the committee met to find that they had run at another loss and so they needed to draw on the club's savings to pay the bar staff and the number of jowly, stubbly men chewing down the pints of Tetley's in the cheerless bar area was reduced further by the death of one of their number during the filming.
Rumbling away in the background was their not very well disguised tendency to blame everything on the immigrants, whether they were Pakistanis who have been there since the early 60s or the East Europeans who have arrived recently. One of the offspring of a regular sat in front of a Union Jack on which somebody had inscribed an upside down swastika and said he would vote BNP - but first he needed to register. He didn't look as though he'd get round to it.