Friday, 30 March 2012

Back In The New York Groove

Which in case you missed it is a Kiss lyric, and has nothing to do with what I am going to write about but is as good as any other expression of pleasure at being back here on terra blogga. The picture is included because I can't resist the temptation of running it alongside the Bagehot portrait below. Contrarianism is king as those who follow even fractionally attentively will already know. Can you still hear me at the back? Which I actually heard someone say without a trace of irony at a seminar I attended yesterday. Lawyers are a funny bunch.

My art has kept me from you my public. That well known artefact of high culture Ray Cooney's It Runs In The Family to be precise. The poster (right) is from someone else's production but catches the tone of the piece rather well. Now say what you like about farce as a genre but I can tell you this, it's bloody knackering to play. Rehearsals were themselves rather a farce but it all came together vaguely convincingly on the night, that is to say I think we got away with it. The Overgraduate himself had a shedload of lines to learn  and even went so far as to learn some of them quite accurately. He could not however have managed without the estimable Colin Bridle who took the understandable precaution of learning not just his own lines but mine as well so that he could get me back on piste when I overindulged my freestyle proclivities.

Dave's new best mate
There's someone I'd like you to meet: Walter Bagehot (1826-1877) - banker, economist, political thinker, commentator, critic and man of letters. Being the generous soul I am I have already forgiven Walter for being a graduate of the godless and infidel college on Gower Street and am letting him play a central role in my postgraduate research. You will hear more of him but for now let me share with you this little bit of conjecture from the Book of Dave. David E. Latene Jr (he of Virginia Commonwealth University, which may or may not be godless or infidel, I know not) mildly disparages my man Walter as reducing Shakespeare to 'an honorary Victorian.' It is, I suggest, rather the opposite - so insightful is Shakespeare that he in fact made of the talented Mr Bagehot an honorary Shakespearean.

The Overgraduate Coach of the Year award can now be announced. We have received nominations for both Messrs Gatland and Lancaster though oddly none for Andy Robinson. However the winner is of course follower of this blog, Gary Street whose England women won yet another Grand Slam to add to their series victory over New Zealand in the autumn. Not only that but you should see Street when he does his comedy break-dancing. I am almost 100% certain that neither Gatland nor Lancaster can do that. Top bloke, Gary. Brush daft of course but top, top bloke.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Which Was Nice

Dude can sing
Do you sometimes switch on the television and see someone and just think, gosh he seems like a nice bloke? No. Well I do. Yesterday it was the cookery slot on BBC1 and the improbable guest, Chris Isaak. He sat in the Saturday kitchen and was generous, modest and funny. Then he sang a song - bloody great voice. Just thought I'd say.

My day continued with a highly enjoyable game of rugby at Saltleians. My thanks to both Salts and their visitors, Old Halesonians, who made refereeing fun and easy, even if the beastly hamstring was behaving like a sulky teenager.

Weary but elated I settled down to a classic English Saturday tea - fish and chips (Mere Green Chip Shop - world class) and a 2011 Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc. This is a combination which works though it does drive up the cost of your average fish and chip supper. Pretentious, moi?

I'll 'ave Cloudy Bay with me cod mate
Not just one but two classic films to finish off my day. Casablanca does not need the Overgraduate to big it up, but it does sit in that difficult category of untouchable classics it is perversely tempting to diss. Avoid the temptation. This is crisp, professional Hollywood film-making of the highest order. By turns cynical, witty, seedy, glamorous and ultimately noble - and all coming in under two hours without a hint of artistic self-indulgence. It benefits from being in black and white - highlights the shades of grey. Also incidentally a fantastic advertisement for the sexiness of cigarettes and alcohol. Who would have known they could be so bad for us.

I finished off my Saturday watching Nicholas Ray's Johnny Guitar in bed. This had been recommended to me (the film not bed) by an interested academic when I was enduring the only painful interlude of my second undergraduate life (this elephant never forgets) but I have only just got around to checking it out. This defies categorisation, is genre bending and was beloved of the gurus of the French nouvelle vague. Is it a Western? Yes but no but yes. Is it a melodrama? Yes but no but yes. Is it early feminism? No but yes but no. Shot in lurid Trucolor but in 4:3 frame. Mainstream but insidiously bonkers. You can pick it up on Amazon for next to nothing and my version even has a little introduction by Martin Scorsese the patron saint of cinema. Recommended.

Just to ensure I didn't become too euphoric I heard Billy Bragg on the radio this morning being interviewed about the right to protest. His earnest views inevitably collapsed into drivel when he got to the point of comparing the Occupy protesters at St Paul's to Rosa Parks. Sometimes Billy, there are shades of grey - in fact we might take a film like Casablanca as our text in this regard. But me? I'm just a lawnmower, you can tell me by the way I walk.