herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Aerfort show stalls on take-off

aerfort (RTE1) proud and prejudiced (Ch4)

ARCHITECT Toal O Muire doesn't like Terminal 2 of Dublin Airport. "It's a total mess," he said in the final part of Aerfort. "I think it's a sad state of affairs when the building's most interesting features are the two curved ramps for cars to enter a public carpark that weren't even used."

Unfortunately for Toal, this episode was a total mess too, scrappily edited and wandering desperately from one place to another like a short-sighted passenger looking for the right check-in desk.

I was just starting to enjoy Toal's withering verbal demolition of T1 -- which is so bad, he suggested, the architects who designed it probably deleted it from their CV -- when we were suddenly transported to another part of the airport to meet fire service member Brendan Keogh, who was proudly displaying a freezer full of dead birds that had collided with aircraft.

Turning over a stiff pigeon -- which, to paraphrase Monty Python's parrot sketch, looked not dead but sleeping -- Brendan explained that the birds would be cut open to determine the extent of internal damage. I'm guessing this is to separate the birds killed by planes from those that died of other causes.

But we never found out, because we were suddenly whisked away again, this time to be told what Met Eireann does at the airport (the answer, unsurprisingly, is monitor the weather), before being returned to Brendan, who was now talking about the large number of hares killed at the airport, as well as the measures used to scare birds off runways.

If the flare pistol or the kite that looks like a bird of prey doesn't do it, there's always the ultimate solution: the shotgun, which wouldn't leave a lot of bird to freeze.

And then it was back to Toal, who was now putting the boot into Terminal 2. He doesn't like the building's shape, or the fact that the building is split into halves. "If it had been built 10 years earlier, you could say it was a wonderful achievement," he said dryly.

By the time travel journalist Eoghan Corry came along to tell us that T2 boasted the highest escalator in Ireland but was a bit of a trial to get around, it felt like we'd been on a long-haul flight to nowhere in particular.

Two wrongs don't make a right.

What they made in Proud and Prejudiced was an ugly, unpleasant yet vitally important documentary that offered an utterly depressing picture of multicultural Britain.

Proud and Prejudiced spent a year in the company of Tommy Robinson, leader of the English Defence League (EDL), the biggest far-right group in Britain, and Muslim extremist Saiful Islam (real name Ishtiaq Alamgir), as they and their respective followers clashed at various demonstrations.

Robinson's real name is Stephen Lennon; he adopted his new moniker in honour of a legendary football hooligan.

He denies the EDL is racist yet his supporters are a familiar breed of ranting, boozed-up skinheads. Islam, a former accountant who's detested by moderate Muslim leaders, who regard him as an ignoramus, wants to impose Sharia law on everyone -- it would, he said, "prevent the drug problem", along with getting rid of gambling, prostitution and public homosexuality.

The two men were born at different ends of Luton, a town indelibly scarred by racist conflict, and though they're supposedly polar opposites, they actually have a lot in common. Both are dangerous and obnoxious, and they also clearly share a love of the limelight.

The centrepiece of the film was the EDL's flashpoint demonstration in Tower Hamlets in London last summer. It's been a long time since I've seen so much naked hatred condensed into a single hour of television.

"It's like a p***ing contest," remarked one of the officials of Luton in Harmony, a campaign to promote racial peace and secure city status for the town. Indeed. But what's being sprayed around is petrol on a fire.

Disturbing.



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