As I’ve mentioned before certain one-liners from The Fast Show (did it contain anything but one-liners?) have made their way into our private discourse in this house. When we’re feeling smug about something we finish up with a well-timed ‘which was nice’; when we’re wearing something new I will often ask anxiously if my bum looks big in it and if someone is wrong on the radio we will point to it and shout: ‘Oi! Johnson – NO!’ in the time-honoured manner. But one of our favourites is Jesse’s diets. Jesse was a down-at-heel slob who would emerge shabbily from an outside loo in order to declare ‘this week I shall be mostly eating…’ and go on to mention some unpredictable diet he would be following this week. But occasionally Jesse would branch out and announce that this week he would be mostly wearing… something like Dior or Vivienne Westwood or possibly a Scouts uniform – you just never knew.
The strength of The Fast Show, however, was generally its predictability. Like many comic tropes you knew what was going to happen but not when or how. Oh, how you hope that this time the depressive artist is going to finish his painting and that the dreaded word will not come up – but inevitably it does and he starts repeating ‘Black – black – black’ in a doomed voice. Charlie Higson specialises in the repressed upper-class type who breaks free, as in this brilliant scene where he dedicates a karaoke song to Ted. Will we ever forget the drainage in the lower field? Will things ever stop being ‘nice’? Must we always hear the word ‘black’ and go on a rampage? Does my bum look big in this?
In more up-to-date TV news I finished watching the second episode of New Elizabethanswhich I was happy to see featured Helen John (‘you’ve been gone too long’) of Greenham Common fame. I’ve blogged before about meeting Helen and how she oohed and aahed over Holly as a baby; about the protests I attended where we surrounded the base and yarn-bombed the fence and about the massive demos in London of which the Greenham Common women were a part. So that was good to see. I also attempted the newest version of The Grinch; having been told Benedict Cumberbatch was starring I was visualising a live action film in the manner of Jim Carrey’s version – but alas it turned out to be yet another CGI film. Yawn. So I turned over and watched the final instalment of Small Axe, the excellent Steve McQueen series about the black experience in London in the 60s and 70s. I shall blog more about this later.
So yes, dear reader, I hereby emerge from a run-down outside toilet to tell you that this week I shall be mostly wearing plastic, for the garments I wear are made partly from recycled plastic bottles and are entirely righteous.
It may well have escaped your notice that the season of Lent is almost upon us. Lent is a period of fasting, as is Advent; and whereas people used to fast before the feast, now we forget the fast and fast-forward to the feast.* And how: Easter eggs are already in Sainsbury’s and Easter is not until April 21st. It’s not even Lent for another three weeks.
*see what I did there?
Not that most Christians actually fast during Lent. It’s more common to give something up – chocolate, say, or booze. The last church I went to had a more imaginative approach to this, suggesting that one might give up TV (we did that and ended up getting rid of it for good) or swearing or being critical (I’ve tried that and it’s really hard. God, I’m so bad at it. I’m a terrible person…) This seems more conducive to spiritual growth than a token avoidance of chocolate, though if one is addicted to chocolate it would be beneficial.
What’s interesting is that while these fasting times of Advent and Lent are largely ignored in a frenzy of chocolate and present-wrapping, the emphasis has shifted. We still have periods of abstinence, only now the emphasis is on physical health rather than spiritual growth. And the periods have time-shifted: instead of Advent we have Stoptober for giving up the fags and Go Sober for October for giving up jokes (just kidding: I could never do that.) Then there’s Dry January alongside all the other post-Christmas health kicks – so instead of December we have October and instead of March, January. Everything has moved back a couple of months.
But as for actual fasting as in abstaining from food and drink, I think the only folk to do that are the Muslims. The difficulty of the Ramadan fast varies according to the country and time of year as it takes place from sunrise to sunset and is compounded in hot countries by the need to abstain from drink. You are nil by mouth: some more zealous Muslims, so I’ve read, even refrain from swallowing saliva. As for me, I find fasting extraordinarily difficult. It’s not only the gnawing hunger that gets me, it’s a deep-seated fear which I can’t quite put my finger on: a fear of fainting, perhaps, or more probably a fear of death. Anyway, since I’ve failed to lose much of the weight I put on at Christmas and am now borderline overweight, I am going to try OH’s watermelon fast. This consists of eating watermelon. Fast. (Just kidding; if you’re trying to lose weight you should eat as slowly as possible.)
Oh, and the sofa should be being picked up today. I’ll keep you posted on that as well…
Meanwhile just for a laugh, here’s a clip from the actual Fast Show:
Thanks to generous donation we have now hired a car for 10 days. This will help with visiting Mark’s mum who is inconveniently having surgery in the General, not the Royal which is just down the road.
Woke up wondering which programme Pib and Pog used to be on. It was a spoof children’s animation on some comedy programme. I don’t think it was The Fast Show. I used to love the Fast Show. Whatever happened to Paul Whitehouse?
Apparently Pib and Pog is an early Aardman Animation: