Wednesday, 18 October 2017

News headline: Big Man Fall Over, Nothing Breaks!

No, that isn't news, I know - but it happened to me yesterday evening around 8.30. I was about to head upstairs to fetch some Piriton for someone being driven mad by itchy Greek insect bites, when one of my wide-fitting size 13s had a run-in with a dining-table chair, and I proceeded to go spectacularly arse-over-tip. I ended up sprawled on the carpet, gabbling "I'm all right, I'm all right", because I was embarrassed at doing something so old-blokeish. Despite weighing somewhere around 17st. 4lbs and hitting the ground pretty hard, all I appear to have suffered is a sprained wrist - and, luckily, it's the left wrist: hurts like hell, but I can waggle my fingers, so it's unlikely that anything's broken. I could have...

Monday, 16 October 2017

Sean Hughes's death reminds me that I used to be able to watch BBC comedy shows

I'll be honest - I wasn't a great fan of Sean Hughes. But I used to quite enjoy Never Mind the Buzzcocks when he was one of the team captains and Mark Lamarr was the presenter.  Strangely, Sean Hughes's name popped into my head two nights ago when I was looking for something to watch before heading for bed, and I found myself laughing at yet another re-run of The Fast Show, followed by a mildly amusing episode Big Train. It got me wondering (not for the first time) why I used to able to watch TV sketch and panel comedy shows, but can no longer bear to. And that led me to wonder what Mark Lamarr was up to these days (he's a near-neighbour)...and whatever happened to Sean Hughes? Had he died and I missed it? Well, I got my answer this morning - but I still have no idea what happened to him after Buzzcocks...

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Three Somerset Maugham anthology films (Quartet, Trio and Encore), plus Dead of Night

I've always been a sucker for anthology films, i.e. the cinematic equivalent of a collection of short stories. My all-time favourite "pure" anthology film remains Dead of Night (1945), which marked the end of the British war-time embargo on the production of horror movies...

The "uncensored passion" of Harvey Weinstein...

"And I (gulp)...

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Buster Keaton in "The General" and Arthur Askey in "The Ghost Train" - from the sublime to the abysmal

I was looking forward to The History of Comedy, an eight-part series starting at 9pm on the Sky Arts channel tonight. But then I Googled it and discovered that it's a CNN series, and that the first episode is all about American female comedians and their fight against sexism - i.e. it'll be an hour of ponderous left-wing finger-wagging, so sod that for a game of soldiers. I'd be far more interested in a programme explaining why the British cinema-going public spent so much of the 20th Century in thrall to spectacularly annoying monkey-men comedians. But first, The General...

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Is the sound of Multicultural London English changing? Accentuating the positive...

Entering a local newsagent's about ten years ago, I was appalled to hear two behooded, suspiciously middle class-looking teenage boys noisily addressing each other in the ugly, aggressive, clipped tones more usually associated with members of semi-feral, multi-ethnic, working class yoof gangs - I began to think of it as "Innitspeak", because practically every utterance seemed to end with the ejaculation, "innit!".  After that, I became conscious of it all around me. I felt a pang of regret for what the writer Pat Barker called the"parrot cheeriness" of traditional Cockney, which Innitspeak - known for a while as Jafaican - seemed to be supplanting, as white working-class Londoners continued to flee the capital. I wouldn't have minded so much if what was replacing Cockney hadn't sounded so unattractive and so deliberately unfriendly. But it seems I may have been too pessimistic...

The secret of Chic's success, revealed by Nile Rogers on BBC4 - start your song with the chorus!

Strictly speaking, most of Chic's hits start with the instruments establishing a groove for anything up to 30 seconds - but what follows is the chorus (i.e. the  rousing, chanty bit where everyone usually sings the song's title - the part listeners tend to remember), rather than the verse (usually a single voice setting the scene, telling a story etc.): it's normally the other way round. Chic's first hit, "Le Freak", goes straight into the chorus ("Ahhhhh...FREAK OUT! - Le Freak, c'est chic"):
This is to grab the listener's attention...