These Are Your Lives

The elderly member of our household, having exhausted antiques programmes, box sets and railway videos, has found the complete series of This is Your Life and apparently – since this is Youtube – Jimmy Savile is still on there. I guess it’d be interesting to watch, since otherwise every trace of him has been expunged from the world, but I don’t know if, knowing what I know now, I could bear to watch it. There was an interview with Joan Bakewell at the weekend and amongst other things – detailing the sexual harrassment she received in her youth; I still remember her being referred to as ‘the thinking man’s crumpet’ – saying that in fact nobody did know about Savile. I can well believe it – these people are clever. They hide in plain sight.

Along the same lines was serial killer Dennis Nilsen, portrayed brilliantly and enigmatically by David Tennant on ITV. Des, as he was known, is here an enigmatic figure, at first seemingly baffled by his own crimes, wanting to be helpful to the police, to ‘clear all this mess up.’ He gives them details and confesses freely to a number of murders. But how much was he concealing? How many other murders did he commit and not admit to? The question ‘was he mad or bad?’ – never in any case a simple either/or – was decided in court when he was convicted of multiple murders, but is left entirely open in the series. Des is well worth a watch – in fact it’s so good I may watch it again. And it also has the excellent Jason Watkins, who impresses me more every time I see him.

TV-wise, there’s a lot to look forward to in the autumn: the return of Spitting Image, a new series of The Crown and the second instalment of His Dark Materials, The Subtle Knife. There’s so much good TV in fact that it’s hard to restrict one’s viewing hours – but I must. To that end, OH and I have started doing the ‘Shabbat’ thing again, turning off all devices from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. The aim is basically to reconnect – with yourself and others, with nature, with your thoughts, whatever – and avoid distractions. We did it last week and it was great, except that we hadn’t planned it too well and I did in fact need to use laptop and mobile for some scheduled events. But next weekend we will do better.

The thing that I was going to say, before I got completely sidetracked, was this: what if there were a Hindu or Buddhist version of This is Your Life? Imagine how that would go: Eamonn Andrews would come along with his big book and say, ‘Tonight, Dev Patel, these are your lives. You were born first of all in 4 BC in Ancient Rome…’

It’s fun to think about.

Happy Tuesday.

Kirk out

When You Have Nothing to Say…

…say nothing.  That’s advice I’ve been following for the last couple of weeks, but a blog can only stay silent for so long before people Begin to Wonder.  It’s like radio silence – if it goes on too long people begin to question whether the station is there at all.

Speaking of radio silence, the other day this was stretched to the limit during the broadcast of Pinter’s play ‘Betrayal.’  It’s a good title, since the play itself is a betrayal, heaping insult onto injury by making public Pinter’s affair with Joan Bakewell.  She wrote her own play in retaliation (also broadcast) but no such redress was available to Vivien Merchant, the wronged wife, who not only had to suffer the pain of her husband’s affair but then the indignity of having it plastered all over the stage.  I can’t begin to imagine how I’d feel if it was me.

But the Beeb were flirting with danger in other ways too.  As anyone familiar with Pinter knows, his plays are pregnant with pauses, so much so that the phenomenon is known as the ‘Pinter pause’:

A Pinter character can barely say half a dozen words without lapsing into a brooding silence.  Which is not to say that the pauses are contrived or meaningless; far from it – a pause, a silence, can convey far more than any number of words when used in the right way.  Pinter could almost have been a Quaker (except that it is not very Quakerly to have an affair and then write a play about it!)  Anyway, this is me breaking my radio silence and telling you all that I am Still Here.  I’ve mostly been in the garden, digging up stubborn brambles with roots the size (although not the shape) of my head, and ivy that has convoluted and thickened everywhere.  Ivy horrifies me, the way it embraces and kills every other living thing: it’s very cathartic to rip it apart and chuck it in the garden bin.  We have just signed up to this scheme, which gets you a brown bin that’s emptied fortnightly.

I promise from now on to blog more often than the garden bin is emptied.  Hope you all had a good Easter.  Anyway, here’s the play, featuring Andrew Scott who was so brilliant as Moriarty in Sherlock:

and here’s Joan Bakewell’s riposte:

Kirk out

…all in the best pah-ssible taste!

Yes, and as a pair of outrageously uncrossed and re-crossed legs passes through all our minds simultaneously…

…let us take a trip back in time.  You’ll need to wrap up, though, against the icy blasts that blew through the world yesterday as memories of the Cold War were revived and then – let us fervently hope – laid to rest with the body of You Know Who.  I avoided the event and had a much warmer time: instead of reliving all that frigid stuff, I went along to hear Bruce Kent speak at the local Methodist church on the subject of peace.  I wore red as suggested on facebook as a rather warmer protest against the money spent on the funeral – a state funeral in all but name – and it was good to have something positive to do rather than spending the day avoiding the coverage.

Other warmer blasts across the country have this week included programmes about Joan Bakewell.  The woman is 80! – 80!  That’s eighty!  Eight-zero!  I can hardly believe it – she’s astonishingly together and lucid; she looks 60 (yes, I know she dyes her hair but still – look at those facial muscles!) and her voice, when she speaks, sounds like a 30-year-old’s.  Her conversation is as bright and cogent as it ever was: she’s a woman who’s always interesting, and who offers a rare example of charm and gravitas working in unison.  So catch up with these before they disappear:

Meanwhile over on radio, R4’s programme ‘Great Lives’ examined the life of Kenny Everett.  Here was a genius; a complete one-off, a great example of irreverence without nastiness, and with so many gags – I guess you’d have to call them ‘gags’ though they were more like riffs really – that you’d only just got one when three more had gone by.  I used to listen to him on London’s Capital radio after he’d been sacked by the Beeb, something which happened in those days with monotonous regularity.  Ironic, then, that he should be remembered on the sober and stately BBC Radio 4 by friend and colleague Chris Tarrant.  The programme inevitably had to deal with Everett’s worst moment, the ‘Let’s bomb Russia’ fiasco, which Tarrant reckoned was due to his political naivete rather than any right-wing nastiness or latent cold-war enthusiasm.

There was scarcely less controversy after that about him ‘coming out’ as a Tory than there was about him coming out as a gay man – and perhaps more, since his anarchic style meant that a lot of his fans were on the left.  Many of them never forgave him.

The Beeb also made a brilliant programme about him a few years back.  Kenny was totally brilliant and did things with audio-tape which no-one had ever done before, or – probably – since.  Sadly the programme doesn’t seem to be available now but here’s a page about it:

* Sigh *
Let’s not bomb Russia…
Kirk out
PS  Oh, and May 27th is the anniversary of the start of this blog so I shall probably do something to celebrate.  Any ideas?

Feminism – a bus-stop perspective

So where are we with feminism?  I think it’s time for a woman in these two important areas: Doctor Who and A Point of View.  I can’t off-hand think of a woman who would be good as the Doctor, though I’m sure there are many – send me some suggestions.  Mark and I also thought that Bill Bailey, with that constantly-bewildered expression he has, would make a good companion.

But there is a clear candidate for A Point of view – Joan Bakewell.  She is thoughtful, intellectual, considered, urbane without being inaccessible – she’d be perfect.  If you don’t know, A Point of View is the Radio 4 thing which replaced Alistair Cooke’s Letter from America after he died and started doing Letter from Heaven.  What, you can’t get that?  Your sub-ether radio must not be tuning in very well.

(Hitch-Hiker’s reference but I can’t find a specific link.)

Anyway, it was done first by – erm, someone I can’t remember, and then really excellently by Clive James, who I like enormously in spite of his scepticism about global warming.

Btw, can somebody out there teach me how to put a link on here so that it stays on here?

Anyway, let’s start a campaign to have Joan Bakewell as the next presenter – and a woman as the Doctor after next.

If there is a Doctor after next.