Chocolate Jesus, Kamikazes and pants to my opponent

My sweet lord, the depths we can sink to when at war and a spot of good old fashioned politics...

Dear Marina,

I was taking a run on the treadmill while watching the morning news when, low and behold, a six-foot, anatomically correct chocolate Jesus appeared on the screen. Now, with Easter weekend approaching, I expect to digest my fair share of chocolate bunnies and cream eggs, but I don't know about the thought of a chocolate messiah! Then I heard that chocolate Jesus was the star of the “My Sweet Lord” exhibit in New York, which had been shut down due to public uproar. I began to ponder whether the exhibit really did go too far, or if cancelling it violated the rights of the artist who created the sweet sculpture.

Your thoughts?

An Easter Bunny, London.

My housemate Tyrone nailed it when he asked: "Would it have been different if they’d made him out of white chocolate?"

How about concrete (concrete production is a huge producer of green house gases)? Is that acceptable? Or blood? Marble? Hard wood ravaged out of a rain forest? Or perhaps two cornflake boxes and a yoghurt carton. Even plastic with a battery powered glowing heart.

What struck me about Cosimo Cavallaro’s six foot sculpture, crafted from 90kgs of milk chocolate was the perfection of the Messiah’s appendage, which did, I confess, inspire me to fall to my knees begging my Adonis for communion: “Sweet Jesus I could eat you!” At that moment this immaculate confection could have converted me to anything - until I realised my salvation would mean the sacrifice of a truly beautiful piece of art. Bad girl!

Given Catholics eat the body of Christ on a regular basis, I’d have thought a change in flavour would be welcome. But there’s no accounting for habitual guilt. It makes people crazy.

If you’re in the UK for the Passover/equinox/Easter season, check out George Heslop’s Chocolate exhibition at Ale and Porter Arts, Bradford-on-Avon from 8th April to 6th May. He too exhibits a full-size chocolate Jesus. But hurry before the Catholics catch on. Honestly why can’t they focus on the important issues such as why Christian society tolerates the notion of an Easter bunny? Happy global chocolate day everyone.

Dear Marina,

I am completely horrified. According to the Sun, British pilots now might be asked to go on Kamikaze missions, crashing their planes into terrorist targets as a last-ditch effort to destroy them. Our young pilots deliberately sacrificing themselves for the war on terror? That sounds far too much like the suicide bombers we are trying to stop! I am all for loyalty to your country, but suicide? In an age where we have rockets capable of reaching within feet of targets, what do you think is the purpose and justification behind using humans as ammo?

Air cadet, Oxford

The trouble with war is you either think it okay or you don’t. Once you cross over the line into acceptance, all humane bets are off. What does it matter whether you use cannon balls or humans beings as ammo once you accept that life is no longer sacrosanct? Indeed one could argue, given the mounting global over-population, that human beings are a greater sustainable resource – and much cheaper - than base metals. As the enemy has already calculated.

We meanwhile are happy to wander in the fog of moral obfuscation, stopping short of absolutes, appointing a sliding scale of values to different races instead. As in: its okay to bomb the shit out of Iraqi civilians but it’s not okay for our boys in blue to lay down their lives to kill those who would retaliate. Although if the RAF manages to blow those foreign bodies to smithereens with a bomb, that’s okay too.

All war is evil. Invading Iraq on false pretences was a crime against humanity. It was wrong in 2003 and it is just as wrong now.

What did we ever hope to gain and what have we lost? Our leaders have failed everyone.

This kamikaze suggestion from the air force is calibrated to wear us down, to lead us into ownership of the idea that a common enemy is out to get us and we must stop at nothing to win. That includes handing over our human rights and personal right to life.

After all, if we can tolerate state-sanctioned suicide bombing why wouldn’t we tolerate war in Iran, ID cards, a terminal NHS, stealth taxes, failing education, the growing poverty gap, increasing low-level crime, pollution, inaction on climate change and all the other failures this government would have us believe are GOOD THINGS!

Die for this government? I wouldn’t piss on it if it was on fire.

Dear Marina

As you know I am standing for election to Telscombe Town Council. I really want to win. What are the key messages we should be telling people? I only ask because I know there are important issues, but when I knock on peoples’ doors they just want to talk about you not wearing knickers. Did I miss something in the Focus leaflets?

Tyrone Harewood, East Saltdean

It is always gratifying when a candidate uses their initiative to maximise media exposure in the run up to the election. Well done Tyrone. I promise, if we win on 3rd May you’ll be let off delivering the Rapunzel round. Why people have to have more stairs than a Take That comeback video leading to their front doors is beyond me. I’d lose the will to pop out for milk.

Our three core messages, Tyrone, are our three core strengths. Only local Liberal Democrats have reduced crime, addressed the difficult issues of Climate Change and delivered power back to the people.

It is a credit to our local party (aided by opposition dirty tricks) that my underwear status has become the focus on the doorstep. Proof positive, surely, that there’s not much to moan about in these parts.

“I wear no underwear beneath my short cotton skirt” is the opening line to an article on climate change, published in the Viva Lewes Handbook (check out The main thrust of the piece is that while there are seemingly positive aspects to climate change – such as roses in winter, warmer temperatures and exposing our saucy bits - this is no excuse for doing nothing about global warming.

The column ends with a quote from the great revolutionary Tom Paine writing about Edmund Burke in The Rights of Man. Paine said: “[Burke] is not affected by the reality of distress touching his heart, but by the showy resemblance of it striking his imagination. He pities the plumage, but forgets the dying bird.”

Proclaiming trumped up moral opinions over my right to express myself with naked honesty as a writer, a campaigner and yes even as a politician, makes Burkes of us all. Now’s the time to be a Paine. Take the bird in hand and focus on revolution. Vote Liberal Democrat this time.

Marina Pepper is a former glamour model turned journalist, author, eco-campaigner and Lib Dem politician. A councillor and former Parliamentary candidate, she lives near Brighton with her two children.
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What David Hockney has to tell us about football

Why the sudden glut of blond footballers? A conversation I had with the artist back in 1966 gave me a clue. . .

In 1966, I went to interview David Hockney at a rather run-down flat in Bayswater, central London. He was 28 and had just won a gold medal at the Royal College of Art.

In his lavatory, I noticed a cut-out photograph from a newspaper of Denis Law scoring a goal. I asked if he was a football fan. He said no, he just liked Denis Law’s thighs.

The sub-editors cut that remark out of the story, to save any gossip or legal problems. In 1966 homosexual activity could still be an offence.

Hockney and a friend had recently been in the United States and had been watching an advert on TV that said “Blondes have more fun”. At two o’clock in the morning, slightly drunk, they both went out, bought some hair dye and became blond. Hockney decided to remain blond from then on, though he has naturally dark hair.

Is it true that blonds have more fun? Lionel Messi presumably thinks so, otherwise why has he greeted this brand-new season with that weird blond hair? We look at his face, his figure, his posture and we know it’s him – then we blink, thinking what the heck, does he realise some joker has been pouring stuff on his head?

He has always been such a staid, old-fashioned-looking lad, never messing around with his hair till now. Neymar, beside him, has gone even blonder, but somehow we expect it of him. He had foony hair even before he left Brazil.

Over here, blonds are popping up all over the shop. Most teams now have a born-again blondie. It must take a fortune for Marouane Fellaini of Man United to brighten up his hair, as he has so much. But it’s already fading. Cheapskate.

Mesut Özil of Arsenal held back, not going the full head, just bits of it, which I suspect is a clue to his wavering, hesitant personality. His colleague Aaron Ramsey has almost the full blond monty. Paul Pogba of Man United has a sort of blond streak, more like a marker pen than a makeover. His colleague Phil Jones has appeared blond, but he seems to have disappeared from the team sheet. Samir Nasri of Man City went startlingly blond, but is on loan to Seville, so we’re not able to enjoy his locks. And Didier Ndong of Sunderland is a striking blond, thanks to gallons of bleach.

Remember the Romanians in the 1998 World Cup? They suddenly appeared blond, every one of them. God, that was brilliant. One of my all-time best World Cup moments, and I was at Wembley in 1966.

So, why do they do it? Well, Hockney was right, in a sense. Not to have more fun – meaning more sex – because top footballers are more than well supplied, but because their normal working lives are on the whole devoid of fun.

They can’t stuff their faces with fast food, drink themselves stupid, stay up all night, take a few silly pills – which is what many of our healthy 25-year-old lads consider a reasonably fun evening. Nor can they spend all their millions on fun hols, such as skiing in the winter, a safari in the spring, or hang-gliding at the weekend. Prem players have to be so boringly sensible these days, or their foreign managers will be screaming at them in their funny foreign accents.

While not on the pitch, or training, which takes up only a few hours a day, the boredom is appalling, endlessly on planes or coaches or in some hotel that could be anywhere.

The only bright spot in the long days is to look in the mirror and think: “Hmm, I wonder what highlights would look like? I’ve done the beard and the tattoos. Now let’s go for blond. Wow, gorgeous.”

They influence each other, being simple souls, so when one dyes his hair, depending on where he is in the macho pecking order, others follow. They put in the day by looking at themselves. Harmless fun. Bless ’em.

But I expect all the faux blonds to have gone by Christmas. Along with Mourinho. I said that to myself the moment he arrived in Manchester, smirking away. Pep will see him off. OK then, let’s say Easter at the latest . . . 

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 22 September 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times