I was reading this blog post today:

and picked out of it the word ‘Thoughtsofa’.  I think a ThoughtSofa would be a great idea – somewhere in public where you could just sit and think or discuss with fellow sitters whatever was passing through your mind – perhaps about Left Unity.  So it was timely that I came across this programme last night about ‘She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’:

It charted the woman’s downfall through a series of at times irritating flashbacks – it was quite hard to get a handle on when we were in the action – but what came across quite clearly was that in her strength lay her weakness: it was the inability to listen to the word ‘no’ which got her to the top – and it was that same inability to hear criticism which propelled her out of office.  At first I thought Lindsay Duncan’s portrayal was too soft – unlike Meryl Streep she didn’t get the voice right, though at the same time the thought of having to sit through nearly two hours of that voice, having lived through a decade of it, was hard to bear.  But the iron fist soon made itself felt: the bullying of ministers and the way they were all afraid of her.  According to C P Snow, the writer who advised in the Wilson government, everyone was afraid of the PM.


Denis was portrayed more sympathetically in this than in the ‘Dear Bill’ persona which became the default in the ’80’s (I used to look forward to these when I read Private Eye).  It was also fun playing ‘spot the minister’ as they went for physical resemblance as well as good acting: there was Geoffrey (dead sheep) Howe, whose resignation sparked the whole thing off: Michael (‘Tarzan’) Heseltine, Alan (bastard) Clarke, Lawson, Hurd – the whole bloody shower, even Willie Whitelaw, his benign old-school manner brought out delightfully by Robert Hardy*.  And then there was John Major, lurking sinisterly in the background like Blofeld, lacking only a cat to stroke.

Go watch while it’s still on i-player.  And while you’re there, pick up the last episode of The Village, whose first series ended this week.  Am I alone in thinking that ‘The Village’ has echoes of ‘The Prisoner’?

There may not be anything similar in the plot or characters, but the place is equally claustrophobic.  It is also anonymous, known only as ‘The Village’ – and as in the Patrick McGoohan series, there is no escape: though characters do leave they are either killed or they return in a broken state.  But let us not dwell on what is probably a very minor point: The Village is an attempt to depict the life of an English village over the course of a century, beginning with the start of the First World War in 1914.  Series 1, not surprisingly, focusses on the War and its effect on the villagers: one young man is shot for desertion because he has shell-shock and can’t return to the front: he also has an illegitimate child with a daughter of the folk at the ‘Big House’ where he worked for a time.  The baby is of course sent away and its mother suffers a bout of mental illness from which she is ‘cured’ by a forbidding man who first force-feeds her and then (possibly) rapes her.  Worker’s rights form a backdrop to the main action, with women keeping the factory going and finding themselves exploited and manipulated.

There are a number – perhaps too many – themes in the series: religion and its failure to address the harder issues of the day: bullying in many forms, including by a schoolteacher who failed the army fitness test; the infancy of feminism and the exploitation of the women who kept the factories going while the men were away.  It was a gripping view, although I had some problems with the way the stories were told.  There were dramatic scenes which were never resolved: stories began but were not finished – although since this is the first of several series, they will perhaps be resolved later.  But it did give a sense of incompleteness: of being ‘up in the air’.

But here it is:

And that was yesterday.  Apart from sitting in the sun and attempting to mend Daniel’s bike, that is.

Kirk out

*’As minister for Magic, I suggest…’