To pay or not to pay? Sheena McDonald contiplatcs the P011 Tax and dcspairs of best laid plans.
So what are you going to do abottt it. huh‘.’ Mouse or ' man'.’ I suppose
.I it'sa measure of i the uncertainty ofone's social
mi ieut att e question can still be asked. Which is to say that some of your friends and acquaintances don't know you well enough to assume that you‘ll do one thing or the other. Or perhaps that they know you well enough to know that you don't know yourself. Yet. So when are you going to decide'.’
Or perhaps it‘s a measure of the potential to divide (parties. dinner-parties. families ct ul) that this latest unsought and unfranchised civic responsibility wields. I mean. nobody asks you how you‘re going to vote in district or regional elections. But the poll tax! Well. . . Not only are we obliged to respond to its indiscriminate demands for raw and bleeding cash. we're also apparently obliged to declare exactly how we've responded. as a general example to the populace at large.
It's comical. when you come to think about it The (iovernment's original argument that the darned thing would encourage an enhanced sense of accountability in the beleaguered local authorities who are bound to (expensively) collect it and then (rneagrely) allocate it has been turned on its head. Thanks to the growing non-payment campaigns which are finally achieving some degree of tidiness and unanimity. it‘s the wretched citizen who becomes doubly and unwinnably accountable.
If you do pay it. the wrath of the opposition-voting majority. not to mention your civilly-disobedient kith and kin. will guarantee you ostracisation from all right-on Registration-Paper—Burning Parties set to cast a fiery proto-socialist glow over the upcoming Yuletide season.
Ifyou don't pay it. the lesser and yet mightier wrath of the law will descend upon your doorstep. or at least your letterbox. ensuring many blue moons of irritation and discomfort. as you attempt to justify your moral stance in the light of your apparent anarchy -- and. indeed. selfishness!
Ofcourse you can afford it! Nobody actually needs two pairs of shoes — AND a pair of bedroom slippers AND two electric bars AND one hot meal a day — good grief. . . Who would have anticipated that you. of all people. would turn out quite so (come to think of it. most of
j us know you to be) indolent.
decadent. subversive. cheese-paring i — hang on. cheese-paring is actually
9 ()K. Pretty responsible behaviour
actually. After all. you can feed a family of four on a cunningly-turned rind. if
E you remember the old austerity
' recipes. A family of four mice '.’
Certainly that's what I mean! Mice. men — there’s long been a solidarity ofcultural parallels between the two here in Scotland which could quite easily extend to matters culinary. No'.’
Or perhaps you can actually afford it. eh'.’ Didn‘t like paying the rates but could manage'.’ Aren't we the lucky one'.’ Two options here: pay the poll tax AND the balance of whatever you would have paid in rates under the old system to whatever local fund you esteem most worthy. ()R — Don't pay the poll tax. but pay the entire equivalent of what you would have paid in rates under the etc. etc.
What's that? You‘re not paying nothing to no one on principle‘.’ ()ho! The nouveau gravid lax socialist. are we'.’ Just watch where you wear that dandy red silk tie. comrade. Wouldn‘t want anyone spilling claret on it. would we'.’
Meanwhile. that old original accountability argument seems to have gone to the wall back at HQ. Ilang the responsibility ofcounting the pennies and watching the self-styled peoples' representatives redefine fiscal management in the face of eve r-growing demands on ever-shakier local services! The artfully-constructed television ads -— all humorous black-and-white fast-mo Keystone lunacy and taxpayer-friendly transatlantic dark brown voiceover -— advocate that we
all plump for Direct Debit. Efficient.
reliable and — allegedly ~ painless.
And that's just a little too efficient for me. Whatever you decide to do about it. allow yourselfa little pain. You can be sure that you won‘t be the only one suffering. and perhaps feeling the strain. one way or the other. is the closest thing to public accountability that is humanly possible.
Unless you are. in fact. a mouse — in which case. pal. forget the solidarity ofcultural parallels! Sing! dance! be merry! For tomorrow — or sooner — they'll have caught you by the small print. same as everyone else. In the Newspeak ofthe 1990s. ‘agley‘ is just another word for ‘improved'. Mickey. And just how many of you are there in that hole anyway?
Rebecca Pldgoon in The Dawning
Actress Rebecca Pidgeon may be a little more sophisticated than the naive eighteen year-old she plays in The Dawning. hutat twenty-two she has not yet lost the teenager‘s knack of having fun. 0n the phone to The List (interrupted from watching Dame Edna onthe box) she describesthe five-week shoot forthe film as 'pressurised' but ‘we giggled ourway through it.’
The result is an
accomplished screen debut fora performerwho has already made her mark at the National Theatre. where she will take a leading role in David Mamet’s Speed-The-Plow this December. With good looks. a folksy singing voice and herown band. Ruby Blue. also to her credit. itis unlikely she will escape pin-up stardom for long, but for the time being she says she enjoys ‘the anonymity of London.‘ Her soft. almost Canadian accent comes from being born in America to English parentsthen living in Edinburgh from the age offive. but she saysthe Scottish capital is somewhere she prefers to visit.
‘I love to get back. butl couldn't live there. ltgets very intense. The Scots have a hatred of anyone outspoken who says anything vaguely out ofthe ordinary. . . lthinkit‘s Edinburgh: Glasgow's not likethat at all. People call Edinburgh snobby and conservative but I think it's more a dislike of exhibitionism. They can only accept it when you are drunkand maudlin. I shouldn't be saying this. should I?‘
Happily. heracting experiences in Edinburgh appear to have offended no one. 'When lwas seventeen. we did a
musical on the Fringe. They put us on at 12.15 at night and about five people came every night. We couldn‘t even gotothe pub alterwards.’ She wasn‘t put off. “You've got to really need to act to put up with the anxiety. You have to do thingsto get rid ofthe tension - like have a good life I suppose.‘ (Stephanie Billen) The Dawning opens at Cannon Sauchiehall Street. Glasgow. 19 November. See Cinema listingsfor details.
DAVE LEE ROTH
Ted Nugent may kill his own meat. buttorthe mostpart rock stars confinetheir extra-curricularactivities to
movies. pretending to
understand Marx (orJung. or Gramsci. when appropriate). or maybe something really daring like riding a motorcycle in the hills around L.A. withouta helmet. Wooh!
There are preciousfew who would know what to do
2The List 11 ~ 2-1 November 1988
if they were stuck halfway up a sheer cliff-face inthe Rockies with no more equipment than a rope and their bare hands. but Dave Lee Roth is one ofthat breed.
The larger-than-Iife singer‘s athleticism comes
5 into playinhislive act. ; which reaches Edinburgh‘s
Playhouse Theatre on
i . Thursdaleand Friday18
(both dates sold out). Mixing old favourites with
‘ songs from ‘Skyscraper‘ (on
the cover of which Both can be seen quite cheerfully clinging to a hunk ofrock that's higher than most of us
would like to be withouta parachute—or. let'sfaceit. f a plane) and material from
his upcoming album. including a maverick cover ofthe golden oldie
‘ “California Girls‘. Roth has beenlowered from the
E ceiling in a full-size boxing
ring and swooping overthe audience on a 28ftflying surtboard. All in his own delightful. self-deprecating (and. unusuallyloran American heavy rock lrontman. genuinelyfunny) style.
Fitting behaviourlorthe man who settongues wagging by quitting his role as singeriorthe mega-successful Van Halen. and then hitched up with a virtuoso guitarist. whose talent and fretboard agility puts even Eddie Van Halen in the shade. Such has been Steve Vai's involvementsince the singerwent solo. as co-writer. co-producer and right hand man. that it'sa tairbet that a fair proportion of Roth's live audience are there to bow at the feet of this Eighties guitar hero. Perish the thought. though. thatthe axeman should draw attention from the main attraction. Until Vai can do one offhose leg-splitting high kicks while surfing overthe front rows. Roth's reputation as