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Wednesday, 2 July 2014


Footy and podcasting aside (see previous post) and after having spent most of Saturday morning bundling the precious record collection into 2 dozen cardboard boxes (wincing every time S. dangled the occasional one, Michael Jackson/baby-style out of the flung wide open window), there wasn't much else to do but watch the box, really. Fortunately, it was probably the most worthwhile weekend's schedule I can remember for a long while. Friday night got the ball rolling with an excellent, if highly damaging to those rose-tinted memories, documentary - Blondie: One Way or Another. The Beeb seems to have realised that most 40 somethings are by this stage of their lives either too frightened*, too old or, in my case, too pissed already to pop out for the once obligatory 10pm pint or three of a Friday night. As a further incentive to put the slippered tootsies up, crack open another semi-frozen can of ersatz Beck's and try to remember the names of all the band members of the once familiar groups lined up in a veritable blizzard of archive footage on BBC 4's music nights, they've started putting similar rock/pop content programming on Beeb 1 in place of Ross's execrable TV outing (stick to the radio show, JR - it's tops....)

Blondie: OWOA, was definitely a doc. of two halves. The first grabbed the back of the spine and ran an impeccably manicured fingernail up the vertebrae - mixing excellent footage of the perfect pop band in the early to imperial phases and fascinating insights into the creative processes (the painstaking layering of the classic 'Heart of Glass', virtually playing the song string by string, drum by drum to achieve that timeless vibrator-on-erogenous-zone masterpiece). But sadly, the second half degenerated into mindless, petty name calling and squabbling. Things were pretty bad in the Blondie doc. too - the ousted members trying to use the band's induction into some Hall of Fame or other as an emotional crowbar with which to jemmy themselves back into a nice little earner. The resident members, pouting in ugly fashion from the lectern, awards in hand, Deborah Harry looking especially sour, like a joyless NJ hooker passed by once too often by a bloated businessman in search of a younger spec.

Things went from bad to worse when Pete Doherty turned up on some C4 music show (forget the name) with S. calling him a useless tosser and me getting perhaps a little more protective of him than he has any right to deserve. He does sadden me, though - so obviously gifted and - more importantly, I think - so evidently all-at-sea in the phoney world of interviwers like Lauren Laverne, struggling here against the straight bat with which PD played her increasingly inconsequential line of questioning. Left alone with a sad Spanish acoustic guitar, he looks to me to be a little too proficient-through-the-haze-of-the-crack to be as '4 real' as I'd hoped he would be when the Libertines emerged. That said surely he should be left to live out his dream that he's a throwback to the age of the romantic poets without the tabloid sqwall. A depressing end to the night's viewing.

Saturday night's opening installment of Beeb 2's History of Light Entertainment series lifted the spirits though. Fry at his least unctuous and most avuncular guided us through a secret history of the double act. From its beginnings in vaudeville, where the doubling up of the artistes helped to deliver the material to an often rumbustious and disorderly audience (wha'ppen to them, you wondered?), through the highpoints of the seventies, the decline (Little & Large - no thanks) of the eighties and partial resurrection (Vic & Bob, Walliams & Lucas) of the archetype in the 90s and noughties. The best moment was, of course, provided by the inimitable Eric Morecambe. "What would you do, what do you think you'd be if you hadn't become a part of a successful comedy double-act?" "Mikeandberniewinters", replies a pipe sucking Eric, before the questioner's even had the chance to finish asking him. Class.

Sunday was the long awaited premier of free Film4. If the aim was to promote the 'new' station as a bold, sassy purveyor of qualidee movies, they couldn't really have topped the always engaging, so-subtle-it-can't-be-American joy that is Lost in Translation. For a one metaphor movie (but Boy, what a metaphor!!) it gets better with each viewing, despite the familiarity. It's like staring at one of those beautiful geometric Islamic art ceilings or walls. The patterns don't change, you just see extraordianry new combinations in what was there all along. The scene that grabbed me this time was the one where Bob is shooting the whisky commercial. It's a subtle but highly effective example of the alienation that Marxists used to talk about before we all became happy citizens of global capitalism: Bob doesn't know why he's there or what he's doing and he's being given inexplicable instructions that will lead to him doing something pointless for money. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

All that and Brazil still to watch on the hard drive....

*Aggresively Premenstrual Binge-Drunk Females litter the gutters of Britain just waiting to pounce on unaccompanied, beergutted males, pissed-up-love-talking them into extra-marital affairs that end pretty much where they began on coke can- littered wasteground with not a soul around to hear the departing sqwauks of sundered love - "aaaaaaaarghhhhhhhhhYOOOOOOOOOgooooofeckYOOOOOOOORself!!" as they stumble home, bandy legged (and most likely) impregnated with a stranger's seed. Or so S. tells me, at any rate.

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

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