What's the story with Britpop and Covid denial? | Stewart Lee

If the government can’t be bothered with the law, Noel Gallagher and Ian Brown shouldn’t be expected to care either

On Monday, the Oasis pop star Noel Gallagher announced his suspicion of masks: “If I get the virus it’s on me, it’s not on anyone else… it’s a piss-take,” declared the People’s Virologist. “There’s no need for it… They’re pointless.” The previous week, in a punctuation-resistant statement Auto-Tuned into near coherence, former Stone Roses singer Ian Brown declared: “NO LOCKDOWN NO TESTS NO TRACKS NO MASKS NO VAX”, and appeared to imply that billionaire Bill Gates had released the bat virus. Two members of 90s northern indie bands had announced their distrust of Covid realities. I found my Britpop-era Filofax to see if I could track and trace a failure to trust scientific and health data generally among the fading faces of the Madchester generation. Top one!

Tommy Scott, of Liverpool’s 1996 Female of the Species hitmakers Space, did not disappoint. “I do not believe in any germs,” he told me by text. “If they are real, and there’s loads, why don’t they have a smell?” Leon Meya, vocalist of Stockport’s From a Window chart-toppers Northern Uproar, revealed his suspicions of hand-sanitiser: “It could be anything. We don’t know. It might just be water with glue in it, or liquidised Pritt Sticks. It could be bats’ jizz. If I see anyone using it I slap them.” Finally, the Stone Roses’ dancer and vibesmaster, known only as Cressa, told me that he had recently prevented a teenage boy receiving the Human Papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) by snatching it from the nurse’s hands and downing it in one himself, like a tequila shot. “Papillomavirus isn’t even an English word,” he explained, “it was made up by French scientists. It means ‘the butterfly is unwell’. I saw it on the internet.”

But it is asking a lot of the Britpop stars of yesteryear to believe in laws. Dominic Cumming’s lockdown drive to Barnard Castle, undertaken to “test his eyesight”, eroded the rules. This week the satire-resistant Brexit-Covid government declared it would break international law to rewrite a treaty it claimed was unworkable. But Boris Johnson had written and campaigned for it himself last year. The Brexit deal it guaranteed was, as Turds himself had told the ITV election debate, “oven ready and approved by every one of the 635 Conservative candidates”. Now it appears that, despite the Spunk-Burster’s special basting, the oven-ready Brexit deal had all sorts of inedible Irish offal left in it. The hated Border giblets keep gurgling back up the waste disposal, like new series of Ricky Gervais’s After Life, or career opportunities for Grant Shapps.

Two conscience-stricken Conservative MPs voted against the Brexit-Covid government’s disavowal of international law. Some Conservative MPs sought assurances their party would not break international law and then, despite not being given any, voted with them anyway and hoped no one would notice if they made enough fuss about the Proms and leftwing comedians; many now consider themselves above all law.

Early on Wednesday morning, on my way to a joint Billie Piper/Dave Gregory fan event in Swindon, I encountered Michael Gove, the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, breakfasting alone at his usual haunt, the Costa Coffee at Heston Services on the M4. “Ah Leapy Lee!” he cried, recognising me from my three decades’ distant stint on his Channel 4 edu-mation show A Sniff in the Septum. “Do you covet my breakfast? It’s not on the menu, Leapy. This is a bespoke dish. Chancellors only!”

On his plate, Gove had arranged two peeled boiled eggs with a chipolata between them, as if in a deliberate echo of his genitalia. “I know what you are thinking Leapy, and you’re right,” Gove exclaimed. “The new series of Spitting Image is depicting my face as a penis and some testicles. Dom says I can get ahead of the curve by saying I love it, and then surrounding myself with subliminal images of male genitalia all the time to saturate the satire. Of course, there’s always the danger that Dom is secretly trying to discredit me.” While he was speaking, I noticed that Gove was chopping his eggs and sausage into tiny pieces and rubbing the fragments vigorously into his scrotal face.

“Do I intrigue you, Leapy?” asked Gove, insolently. “I expect you think the only way to eat food is to chew it, swallow it, and then use stomach acids to digest it. Well I say me nay, Leapy! What if I were to absorb food through my skin, rejecting the so-called laws of biology? For was it not Chaucer who wrote: ‘Wostow nat wel the olde clerkes sawe, that “who shal yeve a Govey any lawe?” Gove is a gretter lawe, by my pan, than may be yeve to any erthely man’? We can do whatever we want now, Leapy! No laws need constrain us – scientific, natural or international! We are beyond laws; beyond reason; beyond good and evil; unaccountable to men, Gods, or Milibands.” And Gove’s very face began, as he had predicted, to suck the slivers of egg and sausage in through the skin pores, that opened and closed like a million miniature, masticating mouths, or suckers puckering the underbelly of an obscene space deity. I turned and fled.

Wondering if Noel Gallagher had reconsidered his position, I doorstepped him in Primrose Hill. “I won’t be washing my hands after I go to the toilet either,” he declared, doubling down, “even if my finger goes through the paper. If I get my muck on me, it’s on me, it’s not on anyone else… it’s a piss-take. There’s no need for Andrex anyway. It’s pointless.” Gallagher then offered me a misshapen brownie, wrapped up in some old yellow Y-fronts, which he claimed to have baked himself “just now”. The pop star seemed disproportionately keen that someone should eat his hot brownie, pushing it forcibly into my face with one hand while holding the back of my head with the other. I made my excuses and left. Faster than a cannonball.

Contributor

Stewart Lee

The GuardianTramp

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