Many thanks for all the kind comments yesterday on Lizardyoga’s Weblog’s fifth anniversary – the occasion was useful as it gave me the opportunity to take a look back and see how I started off. And lo! I find it was on meeting Hanif Kureshi (author of ‘My Beautiful Laundrette’, ‘The Buddha of Suburbia’ and, more recently, ‘My Son the Fanatic’) and on asking his advice as to what aspiring writers should do to succeed. ‘Start a blog’ was his reply, so the very next day, that is what I did. I see that originally I didn’t post quite every day, though I didn’t miss many, and that some of my first posts featured dialogues between a couple called Ladimir and Oestrogen, my take on Samuel Beckett’s Vladimir and Estragon:
I’ve never got on with Beckett, not even in French, so I generally prefer ‘Waiting for God’ to ‘Waiting for Godot’ as I am a great fan of sitcom. I was introduced to a new one last night, called The Wright way. Written by Ben Elton and starring David Haig, it promised fair – but alas! going from The Thin Blue Line
to The Wright Way
is like going from ‘Dad’s Army’ to ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’. They both have the same writer – or writers – but the first has its repeated tropes plus subtlety and something genuine, even touching, at its core. The second just has its repeated tropes. Ben Elton is a talented writer and has written some excellent comedy – most of it, I have to say, in conjunction with Richard Curtis, but still… he can twist his satirical pen like a knife in the wound and make us laugh till it hurts. But this… well, it’s not bad sit-com exactly; it’s just a bit… unvaried and unsubtle. The main character is a less unpleasant version of the CID bloke in ‘Thin Blue Line’ – less unpleasant because he is less powerful – whose conversation is basically one long rant. The Mayor who works with him is a pompous idiot who speaks in inverted sentences – something which might be a lot funnier if done with more subtlety, but it wasn’t so it isn’t – and the hero’s two teenage daughters were disappointingly anodyne and one-dimensional.
Do I mean one-dimensional? Can anything really be one-dimensional? Let’s ask Mark:
‘Mark, can we really call anything one-dimensional?’
‘Yeah, if you want.’
So there you have it.
All this sit-com stuff made useful comparison with last night’s interview (this is the world on i-player, don’t forget) between David Frost (for it was he) and Stephen Fry:
This was on sketch comedy rather than sit-com, but still… though the comedy clips were well-worn the connections between them remain interesting and I will always take any chance to see the Two Ronnies wrestling with Four Candles:
or the fish-slapping dance, or anything at all by Eric and Ernie.
But now I notice that another episode of ‘I Claudius’ is up, so if you’ll excuse me I must away to ancient Rome.
PS That sounds like the first line of a poem:
I must away to ancient Rome
eternal city of the mind
goodbye – for all roads take me home
towards that country of the blind.
I’m actually working on that to make it into a sonnet.