April may be the cruelest month but January has to be the longest; I started back at work last Monday with great enthusiasm but somehow by the middle of this week I was thinking, ‘is it still January? Surely it must be nearly the end of the month!’ Nope, not even close. We’re only just in the middle of this interminable period and already we’ve had snow, sleet, ice, freezing winds and more bad news than any soul can reasonably be expected to bear. So today I shall be steering clear of all that; no politics or weather or political weather, no news or current affairs. This will be a virus-free zone. Vaccines will not come near, neither shall impeachments or inaugurations. Violent insurrections will not touch it…
You get the picture. I got slightly into Monty Python mode there like the sketch from The Holy Grail: ‘Three shall be the number thou shalt count. And the number of the counting shall be three. Five is right out…’ and so on; this was perhaps in my head because of last night’s TV, as Mark Kermode touched on the Python films in his whistle-stop tour of British comedy, one episode of the BBC Four series on British cinema. And very amusing it was too. If there was rather too much in the way of Carry Ons, there was also a gratifying amount of Withnail to balance it out, and what the programme lacked in critical analysis it made up for in sheer nostalgia value. I’m tempted to go into a rant about how much of current TV is banal waffle, but this is going to be a light-hearted post so I won’t. As well as this, OH and I have really enjoyed Staged, and I hope you’ve caught up with this as well. It’s a brilliant spoof reality show with David Tennant and Michael Sheen chatting on zoom and trying to score points as they compare their careers and lives in lockdown. Series two expands to bring in a number of guests as they explore the making of a US remake: David and Michael are most disgruntled not to be cast in this themselves but it means we get cameos from people like Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Cate Blanchett, Whoopi Goldberg, Judi Dench and Samuel L Jackson. Staged reminded us of Episodes, which I’ve reviewed before, though there doesn’t seem to be a direct connection between the two series, but is part of a common trope where actors play a supposed version of themselves, usually a much nastier version (or so we hope.) This is a total contrast to when I was younger when comedians such as Frankie Howerd and Leonard Rossiter who seemed so pleasant on screen were in fact utter rotters in real life.
As for me, what am I like in real life? Now that would be telling – but for the moment, as Charlie Brooker so endearingly says, go away.