Wild? We’re Absolutely Livid!

Now this is what I call a proper documentary. Intelligent, unintrusive commentary, no inane chatter, very little done to camera and no incessant recaps. I refer of course to last night’s Wild Isles, David Attenborough’s latest (and last?) docuseries. It’s lovely to see a work on Britain for a change and as ever the photography is stunning. The ‘how we did it’ section at the end shows just how much work goes into a few minutes of film. This is utter dedication and love and it puts some so-called documentaries to shame.


There’s controversy about the last episode, though, in which he talks about how much damage we are doing to the environment. This is reportedly going to be streaming on iplayer rather than broadcast live, and some people suspect that the BBC has once again caved in to pressure from right-wing Tories on this.

There’s a theme emerging here, what with the Gary Lineker fiasco, though that seems to have been resolved now; the BBC have reinstated him following the disaster of Saturday night’s football coverage, given how much support Lineker got from colleagues and players.


This was very heartening to see, and the more it happens the more the government seems out of step with its own people. Amazing how we didn’t hear a word about free speech from the usual quarters; makes you wonder whether, had he tweeted in support of the government, he would have been disciplined in the same way. It looks very black (or blue.)

I could, if I allowed myself, get angry on a regular basis. I try not to because it’s not good for my health and it doesn’t achieve anything – but I must say the government works very hard to rile me; between interfering with the BBC and Rishi Sunak’s ridiculous swimming pool (never mind that he’s paying for it, what about the carbon emissions? Bastard bastard bastard!!!! Deep breaths, deep breaths… it is very hard to stay calm these days. I’ve just been round the supermarket and noted how many prices have gone up yet again – after paying £20 for a miniscule amount of petrol which would have cost me a fiver just a couple of years back. So yes, no wonder when I think of Wild Isles I want to say ‘wild? We’re absolutely livid!’

Word of the day: skimpulse – when you suddenly put something back on the shelf because you’re worried you can’t afford it.

Kirk out

Christoph is Here

Look up to the sky: is it raining? No? Then it’s about to rain. Yes, storm Christof is upon us (who chooses these names, and why? I know they’re going through the alphabet alternating male and female names but why Christoph? It reminds me of the creepy director in The Truman Show.) If you have flooding I sympathise; we are not affected here but I have in the past sat and worked out what it would take to flood this house. The park over the road is low-lying and often reduced (or increased) to a swamp with streams running where joggers once ran, so in theory the water only has to cross the road for it to be knocking on our door. But under the road there’s an underpass so that would have to be filled right to the top first, so I guess it’d take a while.

I can’t imagine anything worse than being flooded out of your house in the middle of winter, losing furniture and carpets and just drying out in time for the next lot of floods, not to mention being denied insurance cover. It’s horrid, and all the more reason for us to strain every sinew to halt and reverse climate change. I go round this house turning radiators off (I would turn the heating off but we have an elderly person in residence) and I’m thankful that in the current situation we are not damaging the planet at the usual rate.

A propos of which OH and I have been greatly enjoying David Attenborough’s latest offering, ‘Perfect Planet.’ I’d gone off watching him because so much of his work was – quite rightly – dedicated to showing the damage we are doing to the earth, and it made me feel sick at heart. When I see images of a deformed turtle unable to grow because it got caught in one of those plastic rings we use just to keep cans together – just something convenient, not even fulfilling a need! – I feel deeply ashamed to be human.

But Perfect Planet is not like that; it’s a global sweep focussing each week on a different aspect of life on earth; volcanoes, oceans, the sun, and so on, and showing how different species survive under these conditions. Global warming is there but in the background, as it were, so it’s a much more heartening series to watch.

Kirk out

Too Hot? Cool off on i-player

Thanks to the hot weather I haven’t been watching much this week, as I’ve been spending every waking hour in the garden.  But I managed to cool off last night by watching another terrific David Attenborough film, this time about the Poles.  No, not the ones next door, although they continue to be as cool as they ever were (why don’t they interact?  I find it really annoying) but the North and South Pole – or, to be more accurate, the Arctic and Antarctic.  It contrasted traditional methods of survival – killing seals and collecting guillemot eggs – with modern expeditions, all equipped to the nines.  In the land of midnight sun they filmed the Northern Lights – strange how they seem almost banal now, so often we have seen them filmed – and then in the Antarctic they explored the new Amundsen base


as well as finding a unique cave with stunning ice formations and filming some remarkable under-sea shots.

So go watch while it’s still available – it’s a great way of cooling off.


Kirk out

I Did Do It…

Now!  All this week, with it being Valentine’s week, I will be posting an extra blog post every day about the story of Mark and me; the near-disaster of our first meeting, the bizarre unexpectedness of our getting together; the startling proposal in a London pub which frightened many onlookers, the unusual wedding in which something blue was very much in evidence and when Tubular Bells went on longer than expected, and the disastrous honeymoon which nearly ended in our being stranded in France.  Finally on Friday we will have the aftermath of that marriage and what happened next.  So keep your eyes open for these extra posts, which will be scheduled to appear earlier in the day than these regular posts.

So, to business… yesterday I failed to go to Peter’s as I felt all floopy; the same thing happened when I set out for Yesim’s in the evening and turned back in a flurry of snow.  So we shall see what today brings and whether I will actually make it into town to see Peter and claim my free bus ticket.  Last night, having failed to get to Yesim’s Music Circle I watched ‘Film 2013’ (or the programme we always call ‘Film…’ because the year just will keep changing) and found it every bit as annoying as the last time I gave it a try.  I found the presenters insincere, brittle and smart-arse and their comments unenlightening.  Irritating as Barry Norman could sometimes be, he was intelligent, knowledgeable and interesting, whereas Claudia Winkelman and her colleague simply indulge in sofa-bound breakfast TV-style banter with the odd ‘clever’ comment thrown in.

One thing we did enjoy over the weekend, however, was a documentary on Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.  We had to negotiate this on youtube as it was from some obscure TV station, which also meant that at each ad-break the voice-over would summarise what we’d just seen, recap the entire premise of the programme and tell us what was about to happen (presumably to save us the trouble of actually watching the thing.)  I wasn’t a great fan of ‘A Bit of Fry and Laurie’ as I found it a bit too clever and up-itself; in my view they come into their own in series such as Blackadder and Jeeves and Wooster.  Stephen Fry came across as sweet and a little bit shy but Hugh Laurie seemed the epitome of the curmudgeonly and gloomy comic; however the friendship between them was genuinely touching, especially when they discussed the time when Fry disappeared (I remember it well) and Laurie put out a public plea for his return, saying ‘You just don’t appreciate how much we love you.’

There was a lump in my throat…

Here’s the link, though of course it’s in several bits:


Well in spite of such programmes as ‘Film…’ the British Film industry seems to be doing quite well at the moment.  I remember a time back in the 80’s when it was considered to be on its last legs, but things turned around and we won several Baftas.  Mumford and Sons also won a Thingy (I can’t remember all these awards, but it was a big one) and I was pleased, not only because they are English but because they are a genuine band who play stuff they like and follow their own voice.  They remind me in a way of The Proclaimers, the raw-voiced, odd-looking duo who had a hit with ‘Letter from America’:

‘When ye goooooowwww, will ye seeeend bach

a letter fraaaaam Americaaaaa’



They were like a raw Highland version of Simon and Garfunkel.  But genuine.  And there’s the rub: it’s getting harder to find genuine people in public life.  As soon as anything idiosyncratic rears its head, it’s immediately seized on, packaged, marketed and served up to do the same thing over and over until it gets tired and finally dies.  It’s like the ‘I didn’t do it’ boy:


So let’s celebrate those in public life who can still surprise us: people like John Prescott, Robert Peston, Jo Brand, David Attenborough and Sarah Millican.  And let’s remember mavericks who are no longer with us: Joyce Grenfell, Patrick Moore, John Peel and Spike Milligan.

Remember to read the other post!  It’s called ‘My Mushroom Valentine’.  And share your Valentine stories this week…

Kirk out

PS  Grammys!  That’s what they are!

Synchronised Science

Being televisually challenged but intellectually au fait with things, I had heard of Brian Cox but never actually seen him.  Then the other day I caught up with one of his programmes.  I wish I could tell you all about it but alas! I can remember very little as my attention throughout was riveted by Dr Cox himself.  Is there a more irritating presenter on TV?  He doesn’t just smile a lot; he never stops smiling, which gives to his voice that grinning quality so beloved of advertising voice-overs and cheesy comedians.  But it’s more than that: his face, his eyes as he gazes into the camera, his flawless complexion and the sheer aura of Utter Charm – all say ‘Oh, my God!  Look at me!  I’m so knowledgeable; I can give you all this info about science and I understand it all – but at the same time I’m so gorgeous and cute!  Isn’t that amazing?’

Sheesh!  Give me David Attenborough any day.  Now that man truly is amazing: well into his 80’s, multi-talented and still chasing rhinos in Africa.  Here’s his latest prog:


And here’s Brian Cox’s incredibly irritating website:


His relentless smiling reminds me of synchronised swimming.  Now, there’s another thing I hate.  How is that a sport?  I’m not denying that it’s difficult or strenuous, but it’s a performance.  It has artistry but it’s not a sport.

Quidditch for the Olympics

What I’d really like to do is take a scalpel to the Olympics.  From a series of half a dozen easy-to-follow events it has become a bloated monster in a world where every sport aspires, however unrealistically, to be an Olympic sport, so as to get the kudos – and yes, of course, the dough.  The day I learned that tiddlywinks had been granted Olympic status I gave up on the whole thing.  Not that anybody noticed: as Basil Fawlty responded to the Major when the latter looked at his newspaper and ejaculated: *  ‘Strike, strike, strike!  Why do we bother, Fawlty?’

‘Didn’t know you did, Major.’


How long can it be before Quidditch is an Olympic sport?

Kirk out

*it had to – er, come.  LOL

Nice dress, Doctor

When I was a kid I used to confuse Norman Hartnell with William of that ilk.  Norm was a designer of elegant (ie boring) ladies’ dresses and I seem to remember designed something for her Madge,


whereas Will was the first Time Lord and before my – er – time, since my first doctor was Patrick Troughton.  Hence the confusion.  As a child I was easily confused, as it never occurred to me that two people might have the same name; hence I worried for years about how my teacher, Lester Piggott, was able to pursue a career as a famous jockey as well as turning up for school every day. *

Had a brilliant day yesterday – and will probably have an even better one today.  There were loads of people at Tomatoes to hear my rendering of ‘The Ode to the Upperton Rd Bridge’ (see below) and I left with a commission to to a poem for ‘Sing for Water’ as well as an idea for a poetry pamphlet.  Then home to make tomato soup (we always get some left-over tomatoes) and potato-and-pea curry for dinner and an evening with the iplayer watching David Attenborough’s excellent retrospective


(what a career that man’s had!) and an episode of ‘Mastermind’ where a blind woman wiped the floor with her three male, sighted opponents.  Great stuff.

Here’s a taste of the Upperton Rd poem: it’s a tribute to William McGonagall’s ‘Tay Bridge Disaster’ poem:


Ode to the Upperton Rd Bridge

Beautiful bridge of the Upperton Rd!

You have borne full many a load

of lorry, bus, van or car

– some of which were going very far –

The traffic flowed; except when it jammed:

your easy progress had been dammed

by the traffic lights on Narborough Rd

(which were operated in accordance with the Highway Code)

as you dipped towards the setting sun

you bore the cars bravely to the M1

while the other way in a graceful arc

you took us to Nelson Mandela Park.

Happy Sunday!

Kirk out

* he also had a career as Dave Fegent’s uncle and is apparently still alive, though not well