Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Little Ships

The anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuations comes round to its 70th iteration today and the “little ships” are setting off from Ramsgate to commemorate the remarkable events that have entered very much into the very psyche of the Brits.

For me I cant help but think about Mrs Miniver when I hear about the ships setting off. Walter Pidgeon departing from the, very, middle class boat club leaving the absolutely lovely Greer Garson to fend off marooned German fliers. But since last Sunday it will also make me think of The Snowgoose. The BBC ran a Neglected Classics scheme as part of its Book Club programme where they asked listeners to vote for a neglected classic book from a list of nominations recommended by a number of authors. The winner was The Snowgoose by Paul Gallico as recommended by Michael Morpurgo and the prize was to have the book dramatised for radio as part of the Classic Serial series. The marvellous production was a tremendous vindication of the competition. At TESCAPE we are very much of the view that there is a rich vein of forgotten classics out there and we intend to bring them to the fore in the coming years. So hip hip huzzah for the little ships and a well done to BBC for reminding us of the fact that it doesn't have to be famous to be good.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

It's Just a Ride

I had the immense good fortune to get a ticket for “American – the Bill Hicks Story” on its opening day Friday 14th (thank you lovely wife) at the GFT and haven’t stopped laughing since.

The film, for those than don’t know, is the story of Bill’s life which was tragically cut short by pancreatic cancer at the age of 32. It is a fantastic insight into the development of his work and includes snatches of the act that made him such a legend. I still remember that feeling of jaw dropping astonishment when I first saw him perform at the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal. In an instant you realised you were in the presence of genius, pure Rock&Roll. I took every opportunity to see him from that point on and I was privileged to see him on his final UK tour when his act was absolutely at its zenith and though that show was filmed I have seen very little of it air on TV – just a bit too edgy for general consumption even now.

I can’t recommend the film highly enough and once you have watched it go out and buy all the DVDs of his shows. Bill was a prophet and seer, a truth seeker and speaker, a burster of hypocrisy bubbles and an inspiration, and if laughing is as good for you as they say then he was a fitness guru to boot.

Thanks Bill and like you say man – “it’s just a ride!”

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Get out (of Islington) more

Lots of commentators and members of the chattering political classes – of which I guess I am one – are getting very snobbish about the the BBC boat during the election coverage last week, Andrew Neil played host with a suitably piratical air to a group of “celebs” who made comment on events unfolding through the night.

Rachel Cook, in her article Ship of Fools in the New Statesman, is the just the latest in a long line of critics. Now I though it was a rather daft exercise but I am at odds with what seems to be the general criticism. Generally the view of the nay sayers is that the “celebs” were uniformed or were giving opinions about “weighty political issues” that were judged on superficial or trite considerations rather than some forensic examination of manifestos.

I am not in the slightest surprised that the vast majority of voters are not obsessed with these matters and vote on the basis of what people like Rachel might think are unimportant considerations, and often blind tribalism. That's the way it is, that is democracy.

What I found rather disturbing about it was that the BBC thinks that the views of “Celebrities” should be any more important than the man in the Clapham omnibus who cleary hadn't been invited into the HellOK crew. For me “celebrity obsession” is far more depressing than the foibles of universal suffrage.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spoken word a winner - again!

David Attenborough has won the Sony Radio Award for Speech Broadcaster of the Year. Described as “a masterclass in story-telling, a truly compelling listen and a classic example of vivid mind pictures created through beautifully crafted words, and delivered with a mesmerising and re-assuring voice” I assume this is for his contribution to A Point of View on Radio 4 – but I could be wrong. It is a fabulous collection of spoken word material and is a tribute to the man’s versatility given his most well recognised achievement in a remarkable life has been producing extraordinary visual material – albeit with a distinctive voiceover. The splendid thing about it is the way it is unmistakably Attenborough, and the anecdotal style is wonderfully intimate. And for anyone who thinks this is easy stuff well Attenborough himself says radio is tougher than TV and you only have to listen to Simon Schama recent efforts to see how easy it is to come very unstuck – sorry Simon.

Hat tip the ongoing success of Doctor Kermode in the same awards. On ya mate!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Time and change

It seems very likely that one of the outcomes of today’s election is that I will shortly be living in a country whose prime minister is younger than I am. This is surely a right of passage that has to be marked – but how? My immediate thought would be to go out and have a serious bender – but that is surely to juvenile behaviour for such an elderly citizen. Perhaps, as I have become a more senior (read old) figure, I should retire. A nice prospect in some respects but economically unsustainable. Something of a quandary then. Well lets just say that blogging on the subject is sufficient recognition and down play the “old” bit by not dwelling too long.

The event itself has some simpler to solve conundrums. My general contempt for politicians has always had echoes of youthful rebellion, the days when it was positively expected (an apparently evolutionary determined) that you should rebel against all and any form of establishment and authority. As I clearly don’t qualify for this anymore how else can I justify my scorn for politicians? Ah yes, wet behind the ears, un worldly and unruly children. They clearly need a stern word.

Problem solved!