Boxing Clever

There hasn’t been much on the old box lately; I’d given up trawling unprofitably through Netflix and the i-player because anything that was any good had that little red progress bar underneath showing that we’d watched it already. And then came Britbox.

Britbox is a collaboration between the Beeb and ITV, a sort of i-player-plus with loads of classic stuff from both channels. We knew it was coming but they’ve brought it forward, presumably because of the unmentionable, and a deep joy it is too: I discovered things I hadn’t seen for ages, like Rev. (brilliant series) all of Doc Martin, The Forsyte Saga (though sadly not the original with Eric Porter and Nyree Dawn Porter) and I’m wondering if I, Claudius is on there too because I’d love to see that again. There are all the old comedies like The Good Life and Open all Hours and Yes, Minister/Prime Minister and of course endless hours of Downton Abbey which we will be laying down and avoiding (it’s not a wine for drinking, it’s a wine for laying down and avoiding.)

Ironically we discovered Britbox just as I’d begun watching Breaking Bad. To be fair OH and son have been going on at me about the latter for several years but in spite – or perhaps because – of that I’ve been laying down and avoiding it. I’ve also discovered that I have an aversion to names that don’t make sense (I don’t understand it so I’m not going to watch it) but I now know what breaking bad means, so I can proceed in peace. And no, I’m not going to tell you – you’ll just have to go through your own tormented process until you find out. If you are so foolish as to do any such thing.

So – last night we rediscovered the delights of Rev, the charm of which lies in its utter authenticity as it is written by those in the know and researched by clerics including the Rev. Richard Coles. But you don’t have to be an Anglican (or ex-Anglican) to enjoy it; Tom Hollander’s beleaguered priest is comic and touching in about equal measure and Olivia Coleman is a delight as his long-suffering wife.

So if you’ve watched everything on Netflix and i-player I advise you to box clever. Get Britbox. (I’m wasted here; I should have gone into advertising.)

Kirk out

All Won in the Best Possible Taste!

The BBC was under fire last night for Gary Richardson’s post-match interview in which he suggested Murray might get the ‘hair-dryer’ treatment from coach Ivan Lendl for losing the first two sets.  Meanwhile I was actually in need of a hair-dryer, being an emotional wet dish-cloth after the knuckle-biting five-set encounter between the Scottish No 1 and relatively unknown Spanish player Fernando Verdasco.

I tuned in around five to see in disbelief a scoreline of 2 sets to 0.  Could this be true?  Did they not have it the wrong way round?  Nope, Murray was losing.  The Spanish guy played almost supernatural tennis at times, covering the court like Sonic the Hedgehog and creating angles you don’t normally see outside doubles matches.  Andy brought out all his shots, but they weren’t enough, and in the end it just came down to hanging in there and waiting for the other guy to make a mistake.  This he eventually did, putting enough shots out to let Murray equalise and finally win the last set 6-4.  Murray looked the more tired of the two throughout the match and what won it for him in the end was his own persistence and a couple of over-long shots from Verdasco.


Elsewhere on the i-player the Beeb repeated the excellent Kenny Everett biopic, ‘Best Possible Taste’.  The guy playing ‘Ev’ is so good you’d swear it was the man himself you were watching; and his conflicted relationship with his wife and with his own sexuality is beautifully portrayed.  It’s hard to believe that only 30 years ago people were dying of Aids in this country because they didn’t know about condoms.  So watch it before it disappears from the i-player.

Some things do get better.  Homophobia is one – and tennis is another.  Come on Andy!

Kirk out

PS  Wordpress informs me that this is my 1775th post on this blog!!!

More equal than others?

So: following on from yesterday’s post on the causes of rudeness, let us consider the dictum of ‘equality’.  You won’t find me opposing equal rights for anyone: you name it – gays, women, gay women, disabled people, gay disabled people, transgender disabled people, Blacks, Asians and Poles – everyone should be treated equally; that is, of equal importance.  But! there’s a perception that ‘equality’ means treating everyone the same, full stop.  Regardless of what talents they may have; regardless of experience, maturity, attributes, and so on.  It doesn’t: all equal ops means is that you can’t discriminate on the basis of factors which make – or ought to make – no difference at all.  As per the above list.  It does not mean that you have to employ any idiot who walks through the door, just to make yourselves look good.

That’s the first point.  The second is to do with competition.  Now that we have a wrong-headed notion of equal ops, we have replaced prejudice and the ‘old-boy’ network with competition (yes I know the old-boy network is still alive and sucking in some quarters, but not nearly as much as it used to be).  And so we have become a society where virtually everything’s a contest.  Not only aspects of the economy where competition might conceivably be beneficial or appropriate; but places where it should never go: the NHS,  prisons (prisons!), education education, McEducation – and so on.  I can’t be arsed to complete the list – you can fill in the rest yourselves.  These are places where market forces have no business (sic) to go.  Not only that but practically everything, it seems, has to be decided nowadays by some sort of contest.  Who’s a good cook?  Who gets to host a TV show?  Who’s going to be number 1 in the Xmas charts?  Who will be the next Director General of the BBC?  (all right, it probably won’t quite go that far – though in an interesting side-note, David Dimbleby yesterday referred no less than four times to the next ‘man’ to run the BBC.  Presumably they will now appoint a woman whose first act will be to send Dave on an equal ops course.)

So, it’s my contention then, that in a society where everything’s  a competition, it’s not surprising that everywhere becomes a battleground.  If ruthlessness, competitiveness and a desire to win, ar ethe qualitites we nurture in our citizens, it’s hardly surprising that our streets are war-zones where pedestrians and drivers alike jockey for position, all trying to be no. 1.  If winning is everything and not-winning is nowhere, as I hear depressingly often from the media, then what you’d expect is exactly what we’ve got: no respect, no patience, no consideration, no courtesy.

No unity.

And so to the theme of tomorrow’s blog.  Until then…

Om shantih

Kirk out

Rankin and Palin

The kitchen has now been sealed off and blasted into deep space, where it orbits a minor star-system along with other space debris; the cooker finding itself in company with solar panels, bits of cowling, antennae, satellites and satellite dishes which have become confused about their role.

Incidentally, in researching this post * I asked Mark for some technical terms for space debris.  ‘Oh, they’re just bits!’ he exclaimed.

Sadly when I go downstairs I may discover that the  kitchen is Still There and that it is I who will be blasted into deep space.


I watched a great programme last night about Ian Rankin:…_Winter_2012_Ian_Rankin_and_the_Case_of_the_Disappearing_Detective/

Regular readers will know that Rankin is one of my fave authors and there’s a lot of Rankin about at the moment, including a radio adaptation of a Rebus novel which is on this afternoon.  Astonishingly, Rankin writes a book a year; he keeps a folder of press cuttings and ideas gathered over the previous 12 months which then form the basis of the plot; he starts work in January, finishes the first draft by March (!!!!) gets the final draft to the publishers by the summer, edits and then the whole thing is published in November ready for the Christmas market.  Astonishing.  Rankin came across as a thoroughly Nice Bloke, but less outgoing than I would have expected from his prose style; a little understated.  But such a pace to work at!  Normally when people write a novel a year it’s trashy and formulaic, but his bear reading and re-reading and I can’t fault them.

To be fair, a lot of the ground-work is already done: he knows the setting, the genre and some of the characters before he begins, so he doesn’t have to do all that thinking that most novelists do.  What was also interesting, and which I hadn’t known, was that many of the locations in the books are real.  I don’t mean the Castle and the Rock: I mean the Oxford Bar, for example where Rebus hangs out and is more at home than he is in his own flat.  It’s interesting that he does that and gets away with it – normally writers disguise real locations for fear of libel or other unintended consequences; but I guess it would be a brave person who sued Rankin on any grounds whatsoever.

And thence to Brazil.  I wondered whether they’d called it that as a reference to Terry Gilliam’s film of the same name, since it is fronted by the irreplaceable Michael Palin.  He visits indigenous people and sails down the Amazon a bit before visiting a fish market, meeting lots of people on the way.  Unfailingly courteous, self-effacing, interested and interesting, this is TV as it should be.  Watch.

And don’t forget the Rebus adventure this afternoon, 3 pm on radio 4.  It’s called ‘Black Books’.

Kirk out

* What?  You think it’s just thrown together every morning over a cup of tea?

Bonjour mes petits brioches

– et comment ca va?  Il fait froid ici en Angleterre.  Vraiment froid!  Les rues sont comme une patine; j’ai failli tomber hier.

Wow!  That was hard.  It’s really difficult to post in another language if you’re not used to it.  Don’t worry I didn’t say anything significant – just that it’s cold here and the roads are like an ice rink.

Here’s a rough translation of the Dr Who (Bill Bailey) thing:

the Doctor – Who!

He travels in the Tardis.

The fantastic space box

the inside is much bigger than the outside

but that is the mystery of Doctor Who.

the enemy of the Doctor is Davros

he wants to rule the universe, always rule the universe!

But he never rules the universe

he is not very realistic

the daleks cannot climb the stairs

(I’m doing this from memory as the library computer won’t let me hear it unless I fork out £1.50 for headphones.)

Written another story today called “Never Explain” about a woman who starts off very unassertive and becomes a politician.  It’s a study in passive aggression.  So, this month I will be sending off two stories to the BBC (Radio 4) and two to a Mslexia competition (the one I mentioned before, judged by Tracy Chevalier.)

Not much else to report here.

Wrap up and keep warm

Kirk out


In a shock move today, which many are calling a “horrendous error of judgment” the BBC has rejected out of hand an important new play, The Flood, by Sarada Gray.  One source close to the author said “This is typical of the BBC’s current blinkered attitude”, whilst another deplored what they called “the relentless stream of dumbing-down and so-called reality shows which are today served up as entertainment, whilst true talent goes unrecognised”.  The BBC refused to comment on its judgment, saying they were unable to enter into discussion about individual works.

The author herself was today unavailable for comment, but is said to have been spending the weekend quietly in a small corner of her darkened room.