Monday, 22 August 2016

An Insignificant Milestone

This is my 750th post. To the very few who have been with me all the way: thanks, you must be suckers for punishment.

I was at a wedding on Saturday - the nuptials of Hannah Lucy Watson and Andrew 'Dougie' Dugmore. this was a signally happy event and even old misery guts here was moved, if not to tears, at least to reflection that there is hope in the world. The bride is the daughter of my long-time friend IW and I have therfore known her for all her life. She is  a notably cheerful child and I can wish her nothing but happiness and good fortune. IW spoke movingly as befits a man educated at King Edward VI School Aston, even if he did waste much of his time there in my rather distracting and noisome company. Days of wonder.

My mood today has matched the weather - overcast but not direly so. However I lightened the gloom by visiting a deserted university library (the Kenrick Library at the old Great Barr Campus of BCU) to sample the delights of Shakespeare Survey 58, which has interesting things to say about presentism - a trick I am trying to pull off myself in my nascent thesis.

In the late afternoon I abandoned the Bard and treated myself to a very good old film - White Heat. This is James Cagney on prime form as the psychotic, mother-fixated gangster. It rattles along and, although noted in its day for its violence, it lacks the often tedious gratuitousness of many modern offerings. And at less than two hours it can tell modern film-makers a thing or two about editing. 7.5/10. 

Thursday, 18 August 2016

At Last A Glimpse Of Light

The Groupie tells me not to keep watching the cable news coverage of the U.S. presidential election since it only gets me all riled up. I, of course, keep going back and getting angrier and angrier. My angst doesn't just come from the sheer bloody awfulness of the Donald but from the inability (perhaps unwillingness is better) of Clinton to maul him intellectually. However yesterday my patience was rewarded by an impressive platform speech in Ohio by Clinton. In fact beyond impressive, it was genuinely uplifting. Track it down online and compare it to the stilted performance Trump gave via autocue earlier in the week as he outlined the foreign policy he had been given by some misguided slave wonks.

It is not always what Trump says. If you dig beneath the lewdness, the ignorance and the cant, you will find germs of good ideas in what Trump says - given how many unrelated thoughts he throws at a subject the law of averages rather dictates that this will be the case. It is his utter lack of humility that offends and his basic message - "I alone can make America great again." What drivel.

And yesterday it was not always what Clinton said that impressed - for example her instincts on tax are unsound. But the manner and tone of her delivery were, at last, reassuring. How can I put it? I know - she has her faults (they are manifest) but she also has heft and unlike her opponent, she is not a complete twat. There you go, OG has spoken - eat your heart out Charles Moore.

Used to work for big pharma - nuff said
My current hero Rod Liddle has described Labour leadership contender Owen Smith as a 'smarmy nonentity'. As ever the Boy Liddle done good. I can do no better than repeat it. Mind you, you really ought to read what Liddle says about Corbyn! You could not invent the mess that a once great institution has got itself into. How can Ed Miliband (the man who gave them as his parting gift the electoral system that landed them with Corbyn) hold his head high? He must be so proud.

Monday, 15 August 2016

The Good And The Bad

Clare Balding has restored some decorum to the Olympic television coverage in tandem (geddit?) with Sir Chris Hoy at the velodrome. Informed, informative, enthusiastic, interested and interesting. Sadly the team at the swimming got mildly better only to slip right back into self-absorbed puerility as the curtain came down on the best British showing since God was a lad. Sharron Davies wins the award for ultimate crassness with a remark directed to the medal-winning medley relay squad pointing out "That makes us the most successful British team ever." No, no, no, it makes them the most successful team ever; excellent as you inarguably once were Ms Davies, your day has gone. Empathy is admirable; neediness is undignified.

Another telling televisual moment was Sir Steve Redgrave's magisterial put down of an offensively over-eager John Inverdale when he tried to jump ahead of the New Zealand television crew in interviewing their single sculler Mahe Drysdale. Inverdale - you're a plonker. Redgrave - you're a legend.

Talking of legends, I trust there will be no more delay in knighthoods for Mo Farah and Andy Murray. It will make a nice change from the cronyist sideshow of David Cameron's recent misplaced largesse. Nothing marks a man more than the manner of his passing from power - Cameron has gone and barely a soul misses him.

Breaking News: Sometimes The Good Guys Do Win

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Today Not So Grumpy

I had a dig at Sharron Davies yesterday for her over-familiar style of swimming poolside reportage. I stand by that but the Overgraduate is nothing if not fair-minded. So I dutifully report that Ms Davies gave a balanced and sane interview to The World Tonight on Radio 4 last night on the topic of drug abuse in sport. Good stuff.

I was listening to the radio on my way back from yet another exercise in Bardology. This time it was the Lord Chamberlain's Men performing Much Ado About Nothing at a Shrewsbury Castle. Another good production and worth tracking down as they tour the country to various outdoor venues - website at Lord Chamberlain's Men

If you're forever bemoaning the intellectual maw into which we have descended, try this article for size - Hate Crime . And if you've never read any Kafka, well try that as well and then you can call the befuddled world the article describes as Kafkaesque. This is the land we live in, a land revered for its legal system. Go figure.

Ooh sorry, getting grumpy again.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Sorry But Yet Again The Word Of The Day Is ... Asinine

Hello it's Captain Grumpy here again.

I've been trying very hard to stomach the BBC coverage of the Olympic swimming but my god it's difficult. Sharron Davies for starters. A distinguished past Olympian who was robbed of a gold medal by a drug-fuelled East German. But the time to grow up has long passed and being the cheerleader in chief at poolside is not journalism - it's a bit desperate in truth.

As for Helen Skelton and Mark Foster - well I'm sorry, you poor loves, if it's humid in there but I expect my broadcasters to reach for something that at least passes for smart-casual when they dress to come into my living room. But that can all be forgiven if there is some serious illumination cast upon what I am watching. What do we get? A stream of asinine drivel. I revere good sports journalism/broadcasting (think Simon Barnes, John Woodcock, John Arlott, John Reason, Hugh McIlvanney, Stephen Jones, Clare Balding and John Inverdale about ten years ago) but this is self-indulgent and infantile. These free-loaders might be made to watch the dreaded Sky's cricket coverage - intelligent, insightful and humble.

Mind you if you want to see bad, self-absorbed sports broadcasting tune in to At the Races (Sky 415) when Matt Chapman is performing. Knowledgeable and well-prepared but on balance and all things considered - what a prick. A graduate of the Piers Morgan/Donald Trump School of Hubris.

Oh well, it's only a game.

Monday, 8 August 2016

A Curious Case Of A Missing Box Of Chocolates

We watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button last night and throughout I was thinking that it reminded me of Forrest Gump but minus the chocolate box philosophy. Only when I looked up the credits today did I find out that the films share a screenwriter. Benjamin Button is the better film. 7.5/10.

As a veteran of a hugely enjoyable stint volunteering at the London Olympics (see July/August 2012 on this blog for my contemporaneous notes) I am trying not to be unimpressed by the start of the Rio offering. However the clear absence of spectators does make something clear - tickets are obviously set at first world prices and will not sell to second world citizens. What is left is a spectacle (and it is indubitably that) for the billions gathered around televisions. This is sad but I have no answer. Doubtless Tokyo 2020 will postpone any further need to ponder this point. Rather sad.

I can't help but feel more than slightly pissed off every time I am drawn back to the news. The world can seem to be run by thorough-going knobheads. There was though a good piece in the Washington Post a few days ago which bluntly diagnosed Trump as a narcissistic bull-shit merchant. This gets to the root of the problem more neatly than anything else I have read. And when it comes to bull-shit, I am, please remember, a professional.