Strangely likeable hormonal drunkards

<i>The Inbetweeners Movie</i> is here.

So, what's a girl to do when the National Theatre Live screening of One Man Two Guvnors is fully booked down the local multiplex? Why, she opts to see The Inbetweeners Movie instead, of course!

Those unfamiliar with the slanguage of teens should look away now; this is a film of sexonyms on the beach, it's a vaginal thesaurus-on-sea. Neil, Jay, Simon and Will, freshly familiar from their TV series (The Inbetweeners, E4), are uploaded in full widescreen puerility and Dolby surround rudery, to the party resort of Malia, Crete. Sporting "Pussay Patrol" T-shirts and looking like "the world's shittest boy band", they travel hopefully in pursuit of getting laid. It'll be like "shooting clunge in a barrel, " swears Jay.

The Brits-abroad, Club 18-30 (or IQ 18-30) scenario is a familiar one. That cocktail of alcohol, sex, clubbing, drugs and sunburn; the sea of party boats bobbing on a fishy undertow of violence. There are gags (and gagging) galore, and the best-worst dance moves I've seen in a long, long while. Move over Ricky Gervais, and not before time.

The joke is so often on the boys that it's impossible not to warm to them, even as you wince. They are such wholesale losers that even the hateful synecdochic habit of referring to women by their constituent parts (one constituent part in particular) starts to look innocuous. They are welcomed to their filthy hostel by the sight of the proprietor fishing a dead dog out of a well. They are regularly cozened out of their clothing. Neil takes a dump in "the child's toilet" in their continental bathroom. An erect leaking phallus is sun-lasered onto Will's back after Simon doodles its shape in sunscreen. You can smell the failure on them, as sharp as Lynx.

Though the talk is all of sex, the real pull is between the unlikely lads themselves. There's an elegiac and liminal feel as these man-children bid farewell to schooldays and perhaps to each other (partly, surely, because the actors are starting to get wrinkly.) Time is about to be called on the cretins on Crete. The holiday bromance has to end.

And what of the "tail" end of the cocktail? Well, at least the girls are given credit for some proactivity- the boys are not the only ones with sex on their minds. Both genders are out on it, for lots of it. The redemptive totties that the not-so-fab four meet are relatively smart and savvy (apart from Neil's mate who is his perfect match in dimness: like Mrs to Mr Potato Head, she is his adoring reflection.) It's the boys who blub like babies when the girls take their flight home.

But The Inbetweeners behave like morons and the intelligent, beautiful "pussay" waits for them patiently. You can act, apparently, like a tool: get lagered up and off-your-face on fishbowls, fall asleep in an ant's nest and comprehensively insult your girl (in Jay's case) and she will still be there to offer to pleasure you- a case of better fellate than never, I guess. Like the old-school Cretan clunge, Ariadne, the laydeez are left hanging around in the Aegean, waiting for the boys to grow up. Who's the joke really on?

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If the SNP truly want another referendum, the clock is ticking

At party conference in Glasgow, I heard Scotland’s governing party demand a future distinctly different from the one being sketched out in Westminster. 

Nicola Sturgeon described Glasgow as the “dear green city” in her opening address to the SNP party conference, which may surprise anyone raised on a diet of Ken Loach films. In fact, if you’re a fan of faded grandeur and nostalgic parks, there are few places to beat it. My morning walk to conference took me past chipped sandstone tenements, over a bridge across the mysterious, twisting River Kelvin, and through a long avenue of autumnal trees in Kelvingrove Park. In the evenings, the skyline bristled with Victorian Gothic university buildings and church spires, and the hipster bars turned on their lights.

In between these two walks, I heard Scotland’s governing party demand a future distinctly different from the one being sketched out in Westminster. Glasgow’s claim to being the UK’s second city expired long ago but I wonder if, post-Brexit, there might be a case for reviving it.



Scottish politics may never have looked more interesting, but at least one Glasgow taxi driver is already over it. All he hears in the back of his cab is “politics, fitba and religion”, he complained when he picked me up from the station. The message didn’t seem to have reached SNP delegates at the conference centre on the Clyde, who cheered any mention of another referendum.

The First Minister, though, seems to have sensed the nation’s weariness. Support for independence has fallen from 47 per cent in June (Survation) to 39 per cent in October (BMG Research). Sturgeon made headlines with the announcement of a draft referendum bill, but read her speeches carefully and nothing is off the table. SNP politicians made the same demands again and again – devolved control of immigration and access to the single market. None ruled out these happening while remaining in the UK.

If Sturgeon does want a soft Brexit deal, though, she must secure it fast. Most experts agree that it would be far easier for an independent Scotland to inherit Britain’s EU membership than for it to reapply. Once Article 50 is triggered, the SNP will be in a race against the clock.


The hare and the tortoise

If anyone is still in doubt about the SNP’s position, look who won the deputy leadership race. Angus Robertson, the gradualist leader of the party in the Commons, saw off a referendum-minded challenger, Tommy Sheppard, with 52.5 per cent of the vote.

Conference would be nothing without an independence rally, and on the final day supporters gathered for one outside. A stall sold “Indyref 2” T-shirts but the grass-roots members I spoke to were patient, at least for now. William Prowse, resplendent in a kilt and a waistcoat covered in pro-indy
badges, remains supportive of Sturgeon. “The reason she has not called an Indy 2 vote
is we need to have the right numbers,” he told me. “She’s playing the right game.”

Jordi McArthur, a member for 30 years, stood nearby waving a flagpole with the Scottish, Welsh and Catalan flags side by side. “We’re happy to wait until we know what is happening with Brexit,” he said. “But at the same time, we want a referendum. It won’t be Nicola’s choice. It will be the grass roots’ choice.”


No Gerrymandering

Party leaders may come and go, but SNP members can rely on one thing at conference – the stage invasions of the pensioner Gerry Fisher. A legendary dissenter, Fisher refused this year to play along with the party’s embrace of the EU. Clutching the
lectern stubbornly, he told members: “Don’t tell me that you can be independent and a member of the EU. It’s factually rubbish.” In the press room, where conference proceedings were shown unrelentingly on a big screen, hacks stopped what they were doing to cheer him on.


Back to black

No SNP conference would be complete without a glimpse of Mhairi Black, the straight-talking slayer of Douglas Alexander and Westminster’s Baby of the House. She is a celebrity among my millennial friends – a video of her maiden Commons speech has been watched more than 700,000 times – and her relative silence in recent months is making them anxious.

I was determined to track her down, so I set my alarm for an unearthly hour and joined a queue of middle-aged women at an early-morning fringe event. The SNP has taken up the cause of the Waspi (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign, run by a group of women born in the 1950s whose retirement age has been delayed and are demanding compensation. Black, who is 22, has become their most ­articulate spokeswoman.

The event started but her chair remained unfilled. When she did arrive, halfway through the session, it was straight from the airport. She gave a rip-roaring speech that momentarily convinced even Waspi sceptics like me, and then dashed off to her next appointment.


Family stories

Woven through the SNP conference was an argument about the benefits of immigration (currently controlled by Westminster). This culminated in an appearance by the Brain family, whose attempt to resist deportation back to Australia has made them a national cause célèbre. (Their young son has learned to speak Gaelic.) Yet for me, the most emotional moment of the conference was when another family, the Chhokars, stepped on stage. Surjit Singh Chhokar was murdered in 1998, but it took 17 years of campaigning and a change in double jeopardy laws before his killer could be brought to justice.

As Aamer Anwar, the family’s solicitor, told the story of “Scotland’s Stephen Lawrence”, Chhokar’s mother and sister stood listening silently, still stricken with grief. After he finished, the delegates gave the family a standing ovation.

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, the New Statesman’s politics blog

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

This article first appeared in the 20 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brothers in blood