Sunday, 29 January 2012

With The Glums

Now you will say that I don't look old enough but honestly my younger, yes younger, daughter was 21 on Saturday. So her mother and I toddled off to that London for a bit of celabratoriness with the offspring. We drunk a couple of bottles of champagne, we stayed in a nice hotel and we went to see Les Miserables. Which I have to say is really jolly good. And this song is up there with the all time great songs to get you in the mood for killing people. Now this is quite a specialised category of music but it is an important one which includes Welcome to the Jungle, Tomorrow Belongs to Me, The International and probably Jerusalem, all of which in their variousness should ensure that I've offended someone somewhere. Job done then. So gird your loins and sing along as you man the barricades.

Monday, 23 January 2012

God And Mammon

Premier League eat your heart out
Nobody, or at least nobody who has watched and understood Bull Durham, will fail to appreciate that there is a poetry, spirituality even, to the playing of competitive sport. Especially team sport. That poetry is sorely challenged by the intrusion of money but it does survive even the most extreme exposures to the forces of avarice. As witness to which please see Exhibits A and B, yesterday's AFC and NFC championship games. Pats and Giants Win Classics The day of the conference finals is a far better day's sport than the overblown and stamina-sapping Superbowl. The blood lust of home fans and the absence of the ludicrous half-time show combine to make this proper raw sport notwithstanding all the money sloshing around the players. At another extreme please also see last Friday's Heineken Cup tie at a dog track in Galwey wherein Connacht beat up a perplexed Harlequins team in a stinking gale. Brilliant. You can't make this stuff up. 

Friday, 20 January 2012

The Rise Of The New Man

Our more seasoned observers will have welcomed the return to the commentariat of that beacon of reason Viperjohn. We wish him a prosperous new year. You may gather that Viperjohn is a man for whom the adjective vituperative might have been invented but before my liberal readers hasten to condemn him, let me tell you a few facts about the man. He is one of my closest friends and I happen to know (from the privileged position of professional involvement) that he puts his money where his mouth is. My dear you simply wouldn't credit it, he actually employs people in businesses that make things. How unfashionable. How bloody laudable. I also happen to know he works his bollocks off which rather puts the Overgraduate to shame. And he can take his beer, boy can he take his beer. And he's effortlessly better than the Overgraduate at golf, the bastard.

All of which in a rather round about away gets me to today's point because what I am about to say will, I suspect, confirm him in his belief that I've gone soft in the head. Here's the thing - for the past couple of weeks I've tried to be a Monday to Friday vegetarian. I do this not for any reason of conviction but because I thought it might just be a way of stimulating some post-Christmas weight loss. News flash - if you start from the point of being a greedy carnivorous bastard who eats too much, this system can work. Hero of the experiment is the world's best vegetable - the humble leek. There's lovely.

But here is a promise to Viperjohn. In late April will come a day when we dine on Sea Food Chowder, followed by gargantuan King Rib, rounded off with a proper man's pudding and swilled down with the black stuff, a sauvignon blanc and, what else, a robust rioja. We will talk eminent good sense throughout. And we will be temporary kings.

I've just realised that my spell-checker recognises neither sauvignon blanc nor rioja. I'm sacking it.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Abject Terror ... Plus A Good Television Programme

Sometimes you should be careful what you wish for. Like for instance the lead part in an amateur production of a farce. I read for It Runs In The Family, which is one of them Ray Cooney jobbies, that is to say mistaken identity, cross-dressing and double entendre. I now face the prospect of learning a shit-load of lines and the renewed terror of being on stage. Darling I'm positively dripping with fear. As for the play, well high art it ain't but you do have to admire the dramatic craft and ear for low humour. I play an arrogant hospital consultant (oxymoron?) which shouldn't be too much of a stretch attitude-wise.

Unlikely tv star
But most importantly, today I want to urge you to watch this if you get the chance - Jonathan Meades On France. I really can't tell whether or not this is what the licence fee should be spent on but I love Meades - he's unapologetically clever, rude, opinionated and stimulatingly deadpan. Half the time I don't even know what he's on about but it's great fun watching him say it. 

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

200th Post

Yes, it's been that many, and not a dud among them.

Back to salaried serfdom today (in truth not as trying as self-employment had become when I ducked out back in 2008) and the day was enlivened by opening up my desk diary bearing daily one of Shakespeare's insults. I am not going to do this every day because, well, it would soon get boring for me and even sooner for you, but I do reserve the right to quote the chosen extract when it catches my fancy. As today.
Who deserves greatness
Deserves your hate; and your affections are
A sick man's appetite, who desires most that
Which would increase his evil. He that depends
Upon your favours swims with fins of lead
And hews down oaks with rushes.
Coriolanus 1.1.178 (OpenSource Shakespeare internet edition)
I like the Roman plays, bloody good job because they will play a significant part in my thesis. In particular I like Titus Andronicus and Coriolanus. Admittedly both predilections are not unrelated to contrariness on my part but I think I can muster a defence of both these relatively neglected texts. I've blogged about Titus before so let's deal with Coriolanus. The magnificently scathing words above are close to the very first that Coriolanus utters in the play. His mood doesn't ever get any better. This is the point. His tragedy is that he cannot temporise. Like a good Yorkshireman, he knows what he likes and he likes what he bloody well knows. One's view of him depends very much on whether one shares his disdain of the great unwashed. So the play can be structured as fascist encomium or socialist dismissal or, best of all, as neither. Questions are so much more interesting than answers.
Well known Overgraduate impersonator
Here is a picture of that Charles Dance who once played Coriolanus at Stratford. He is my idea of what the tragic Roman should look like. In common with your correspondent he has also played Maxim de Winter, he on commercial television, the Overgraduate on the stage at Holly Lane United Reform Church, Erdington. Even my Mum thinks Dance was better.

If you fancy some fun with Shakespeare but can't be arsed to buy a book try the quite excellent website OpenSource Shakespeare. If nothing else use the concordance to see how many times, if at all, the bard uses your favourite swear word. 'Bum' appears on three occasions, twice in one play. But I'll leave you to find out which for yourself. Welcome to my world.