A Tale of Two Women

You don’t often get two blog posts out of me in one day but today my brain was just bursting with stuff and I felt compelled to share it.  This is the tale of two world leaders, one a model of calm, selfless efficiency and the other a robotic, bull-headed mulish person with no leadership skills and who wouldn’t know the word ‘consultation’ if it biffed her repeatedly in the face.  Seriously, what planet is Theresa May on????  She has ploughed forward through repeated defeats, made blunders which would have unseated most Prime Ministers and generally behaves like a two-ton tank driving out of control over a camp-site (hang on, that’s triggering a memory of some sort: I think there’s a film where a steam engine runs over a load of tents.  Or is it Dad’s Army?  Let’s see if Google knows.  Yes!  I was right on both fronts: it’s a scene from the film of Dad’s Army.  I can’t find a clip but there’s an image here.)

Just from memory alone, here are some of the things the MayRoller has ploughed through which would have unseated any other PM:

  1.  Calling a general election to consolidate her base and instead losing her majority
  2.  Following said general election, paying one billion pounds to the DUP to secure their support.  This was a straightforward bribe which, as well as being corrupt, threatened to totally derail the Good Friday peace agreement in Northern Ireland.
  3. Failing to consult with other parties on a national Brexit strategy
  4. Failing to exhibit any negotiating skills whatsoever
  5. Following said failure, bringing her defeated bill back to parliament and attempting to have essentially the same legislation voted on three times (the third time was quite rightly vetoed by the Speaker.)
  6. Offering bribes to Labour MPs in rundown constituencies in the shape of money for those constituencies if they supported her bill (they quite rightly refused)
  7. Having no personal skills whatsoever
  8. Insulting those members of parliament on whose votes she depended

Those are just off the top of my head: I’m sure there are others.

Her strategy seems to consist of shuttling back and forth between Brussels and London until she just wears everyone out.  But her opponents show no signs of relenting and even though Labour are not exactly coherent on Brexit we look positively resolute by comparison.

Now let’s consider Jacinda Ardern, PM of New Zealand, one of the youngest world leaders and one of the few to give birth while in office.  Following the Mosque attacks she:

  1.  Visited the site and expressed solidarity in the strongest terms
  2.  Took immediate action on gun control and announced legislation on assault weapons: an amnesty has already brought in thousands of these guns and as of now people will not be able to get a licence so although they are technically on sale there’s no point in buying one.
  3. Announced that since notoriety was one of the attacker’s aims, his name would never be mentioned by her

These strike me as measures which are both strong and compassionate: would that America did the same after a school massacre (incidentally, since Trump’s solution to these events is to arm the teachers, would he suggest that NZ arms the Imams?  I suspect not.)

Well there you go: two posts in one day.  I must be feeling better.

Kirk out

 

 

Carrying him home in two carrier bags…

So, it’s Thursday which means the theme is ‘life on the i-player’.  And what have I been watching this week?  Well, it being the slow season there wasn’t too much on offer that was new.  So I caught a couple of old favourites including Dad’s Army and QI.  The latter featured the quite incredibly annoying Brian (gosh, I’m so brilliant) Cox as well as the ever-entertaining Sue Perkins, and had a lot of Quite Interesting science stuff in which was almost ruined by Cox’s perennially-grinning manner.  Half an hour of Brian is enough to make me yearn for Richard Dawkins – and that’s saying something.  It’s hard to imagine Dawkins on QI though, as he doesn’t seem to have much of a sense of humour.

Dad’s Army turned out to be an early black-and-white episode where a jobsworth bloke from HQ comes to inspect the platoon and tries to get Jones thrown out.  This highlights what is touching and quite subtle about DA – features which subsequent series from the same writers, such as ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’ and ‘Allo Allo’ entirely lacked – insofar as Mainwaring genuinely cares about his men and goes out on a limb to protect them.  When Jones is asked to complete an assault-course in 15 minutes the entire platoon pitches in to help perpetrate a scam and Jones is saved.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0077l2b/Dads_Army_Series_1_The_Showing_Up_of_Corporal_Jones/

I followed this up with a helping of Blackadder – the third series, and in many ways my favourite, though the fourth is more moving.  This episode features a couple of ham actors and Prince George calling his butler ‘Bladder’, which I’m convinced was a blooper they kept in:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0078wqx/Blackadder_Blackadder_the_Third_Sense_and_Senility/

Just as I was about to listen to the Archers – at the very moment the pips were sounding, in fact – Mark burst through the door laden down with carrier bags.

‘What have you got there?’ I asked.

He showed me one bag which had the usual food-cupboard contributions from his mother.

‘What’s in the other one?’ I said.

‘A fox skull,’ he replied, airily.

‘A fox skull?’

‘Yes.  My mum gave it to me.  She found it on the lawn.’

‘But what are you going to do with it?’

‘Oh, dunk it in Persil.’

Resisting the urge to dunk his human skull in Persil, I persisted:

‘And then?’

‘Oh!  I don’t know – put it on a shelf or something.’

Great.  Just what I wanted – a manky old fox skull cluttering up the place.

So after the Archers we watched a very interesting programme about the history of lighthouses on the coast of Scotland and the family – Robert Louis Stevenson’s family, as it happens – who built them.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00y6hym/The_Lighthouse_Stevensons/

And so to bed…

Kirk out

It Ain’t Half Hot, Dad!

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:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waiting_for_Godot

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thin_Blue_Line_(TV_series)

to The Wright Way

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2649480/

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:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01sg96h/Frost_on_Sketch_Shows/

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qu9MptWyCB8

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.

Kirk out

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.

So farewell then…

Cap’n Peacock, he of ‘Are you Being Served?’ fame.  I really hated that series – as I did all sitcoms penned by Perry and/or Croft subsequent to ‘Dad’s Army’ – and I’m still trying to work out why it is that the same writing duo can go from subtle and intelligent comedy to crap that beats you about the head, in the space of about five minutes.

Jimmy Perry and David Croft came to fame with ‘Dad’s Army’.  Though some of the plot rested on slapstick, what saved it from the predictability of later series was the subtle interplay of class and character: Sergeant Wilson being more intelligent and higher social status than his Captain.  The characters were also more rounded: though they had their own oft-repeated tropes, they were believable as characters in their own right; they had range and humanity.  We cared about them, just as Mainwaring – for all his pomposity and blundering – cared deeply about them, and about winning the war.

But subsequent sitcoms the pair were involved in tended to hit the viewer over the head.  There was no subtlety in ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’, no nicely-nuanced social observation in ‘Allo-Allo’ or ‘Hi-de-hi’, and if I have to hear one more joke in the whole of my life about Mrs Slocum’s pussy I will go stark staring bananas.  They left behind the good stuff and just went with the obvious slapstick.

What happened?

It’s very disappointing.  So I can’t find it in me to mourn too deeply for Cap’n Peacock’s demise.  But there you go – he’s dead.  I’m tempted to say that he died as he acted – peacefully in his sleep – but that would be cruel.

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/showbiz-and-lifestyle/showbiz/2013/03/18/frank-thornton-captain-peacock-in-are-you-being-served-has-died-at-92-91466-33015399/

Today I shall be mostly… sweating at the laptop-face.

Kirk out