Tony Curtis was as long-lashed and beautiful in cartoon as well as in the flesh.
What I loved about The Flintstones was the gadgetry that these cavemen of suburban USA employed.
Tony Curtis was as long-lashed and beautiful in cartoon as well as in the flesh.
What I loved about The Flintstones was the gadgetry that these cavemen of suburban USA employed.
Mice hide when hawks are high;
Hawks shy from airplanes;
Planes dread the ack-ack-ack;
Each one fears somebody.
Only the heedless lions
Under the Booloo tree
Snooze in each other's arms
After their lunch of blood -
I call that living good!
There have been back to back programmes about Joy Adamson to celebrate 50 years since the publication of Born Free. I can’t remember much about the film Born Free but I would guess the Joy Adamson in real life and documentary was far more talented, far more single-minded and far more difficult than she was as portrayed by Virginia McKenna. Like a lot of women, and men, who can relate well with animals she couldn’t be bothered much in conciliating human beings. Not a warm, caring person at all - in fact, a bit of a monster - but highly admirable, using the profits from her books for various conservation projects.
There are thousands of photos of her and Elsa embracing. The lioness was as photographed as often as a first-born child. In one of the documentaries Desmond Morris said that Joy Adamson regarded Elsa as a “lover” , not sexually, but certainly with physical closeness and unconditional love. There are a couple of things to be observed about absorbing love of an animal:- 1) unless it’s an elephant or tortoise you are almost certain to outlive it; 2) a jealous, possessive person can demand total attention from the object of their love when human - throwing scenes when the object wants to watch football with his mates - but the lover of an animal accepts the fact that the animal has its own life of animalhood - of hunting, mating, scents and night time prowling. The lover would not accept a human rival in affection, but the animal life is not a threat as it is so alien. Also, a lioness out hunting shows her power - the grand strong beast that runs down the gazelle and then nuzzles up to the human that she could kill with one swipe of her paw.
I had a pet goat when I was a child, that I’d played with from a kid. The goats multiplied and increased to a herd and were sent to the back of the farm where they were supposed to keep down the blackberry and other scrub. Whenever we came across the herd all the goats would stop, watch us warily and be ready to run but Ellie-Mae would come forward, greet me and let me scratch her head.
Last night I watched Dispatches: Britain’s Islamic Republic, on Channel 4. It was about the Islamic Federation Europe’s entryism into the Labour party, and their domination of the Tower Hamlets council, which gives them access to large sums of money that they can divert from generally cultural projects to the more purely religious. The IFE members came across as intolerant puritans, reminding me of the Christian evangelicals who in Victorian times dominated the country, with their Mrs Grundy censorship, their suspicion of pleasure, their miserable joyless dreary Sundays, which continentals used to regard with horror. Along with the puritanism is a desire to control the morals of others. These guys were leaning heavily on a young woman who was starting a dating site, or taking away the funding from groups that were celebrating song and dance in bright costumes. They were like Mrs Proudie the bishop's wife in Trollope’s Barchester series, who locked her servants’ doors and whose petty tyranny was justified because it was for the souls of the people. Save us from those who would save our souls!
When you heard that Julie Walters was playing Mo, in the eponymous bio telly pic about the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland you knew Maureen Mowlam was going to be warm, and human and dead loveable and out-spoken and Northern, with an adoring husband. Similarly in Wide-eyed and Legless, where Julie Walters was playing Diana, with the strange illness and adoring husband, she was warm, and human and dead loveable and outspoken and Northern. And in Calendar Girls, Julie Walters was bereaved of her sweet adoring husband, and she was so warm and human and dead loveable (and outspoken and Northern). She even made Mary Whitehouse warm and human and outspoken with a nice husband. Can someone please give her the role of Margaret Thatcher? Or Elizabeth the First? Or Boadicea? Or even Ilse Koch and see if she will make them warm; human; dead loveable; outspoken; Northern? Right from her days in Educating Rita she has been played such women and she must be sick of it.
Actually her brilliant friend Victoria Walters did feature her as a silly, egocentric actress in Victoria Wood’s Midlife Christmas where she played someone who was bloody annoying and a total pain in the neck, so she’s got it in her to get away from those warm etc parts which haunt her like the Furies.
I haven’t listened to either X Factor’s Joe McElderry’s runner up for the Christmas number one spot or Rage Against the Machine’s winning song, but if Simon Cowell is pissed off, all right minded people should rejoice.
His teeth and hair can make you howl
I mean that tin-eared Simon Cowell
The telly talent contest’s über führer.
Some Yankee lefties had their fun,
In beating him to number one,
And all of us can shout out Hallelujah!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.
The recent death of Edward Woodward brought back to mind the swinging light bulb of Callan.
In the late sixties/early seventies Britain made downbeat telly programmes with stories of corruption and seediness, visual Graham Greeneland minus the Catholicism. We saw them in New Zealand years after they were made. We were always way behind. Pallid immigrants from Britain would arrive with news of what was going to happen in Coronation Street. These programmes of greyness and griminess contrasted with the brash, action-filled American shows and their abnormally good-looking actors. I can't remember when we got a colour telly, but the colours of the British shows were so subdued anyway compared to the bright American shows that they may as well have been in monochrome.
Villains was another series of that era with the same kind of atmosphere. Does anyone remember it? Google hardly seems to have heard of it.
There was also Law and Order – not the American show, but a short series about crooked cops and dodgy solicitors. The American show makes it difficult to find it on Google but I bet it was made about then as well.
The Sweeney came along a little later. The final rolling credits over the mournful theme tune and the moral ambiguity make it look like son of Callan.
I didn't get one of those gadgets that allow you to watch BBC4 on the telly because I knew if I did I'd spend even more time focussed on the box. However, I have been watching the Women We Loved series over the internet. The two episodes so far have had good period atmosphere in the way of clothes and background. With Enid it was the grand wood-panelled house down the rhododendron drive which was her prize for writing 6,000 words a day, with Gracie! it was wartime and backstage as the Ensa trouper went forth.
Enid had a run of the mill script, with Enid being portrayed as the woman writer as monster. She was as solipsistic, as ruthless as the prolific romantic novelist heroine of Elizabeth Taylor's novel Angel. She preferred the fantasy world to the real one of war and a difficult husband, her imaginary children and her fan children to her own children, and this was underlined in obvious scenes of juxtaposition e.g. writing about her scamp of a dog while the real dog is getting buried. However, it was watchable in that reliable BBC doing period way, and Helena Bonham-Carter was very good as the icy, defensive Enid.
Gracie! had a better script which dealt with more exciting times, since Gracie Fields toured in wartime France instead of staying at home writing. Jane Horrocks really was brilliant, deserving of every award going. I always found her irritating as Bubble in Absolutely Fabulous as she wasn't actually funny compared to the characters of Joanne Lumley and Jennifer Saunders, simply playing on one note of dippiness and daft outfits. But here she wasn't trying to be comic, but playing a woman who is a comedian, so when she put on silly faces and voices, which she did with great verve, they were in character. When dealing with the public her salt-of-the-earth, lass from Rochdale persona was as much a mask for her as the gracious lady would be for another kind of woman performer. It wasn't so much a mask as a protection – an exaggeration of her normal self that she could retreat to. (A lot of us do that, becoming more Irish or Scottish or posh or sturdy worker or brisk professional as a kind of armour in certain situations.) The big story was her marriage to an Italian and how this put her in a pillory created by the press, which showed the media being as vicious, irresponsible and unjust then as it is now.
Also, Jane Horrocks really can sing. I can see her doing a one woman show of Gracie Fields as Maureen Lippmann did a one woman show of Joyce Grenfell.
Next one in the series is Margot Fonteyn so another hour and a half down the drain while I watch her elegantly pirouetting however difficult and tragic her life.
"You’ve done well, Nicky," said Duke, as they sat in the back seat of the bullet proof car. "You’ve pulled that party together. It was a rag-tag mob of criminal gangsters and street fighters before you re-organised it."
Nick Griffin bent his head. "All learned through you, El Duke." Only David Duke’s closest comrades called him "El Duke".
"Yeah, well it’s common sense really. We didn’t make much of a head way with the old robes and fiery crosses. We had a lot of fun, mind you, but the time comes when you have to chuck away those swastikas and put on a suit. It’s the public image, always." He looked at his watch. "Faster, Siegfried!" he said to the driver. "We don’t want out English friend to be late for the Movement."
The Movement! Griffin felt his heart swell. The car had taken a circuitous route, but now drove into a car park under what looked like an unlit building. Following Duke and the bodyguards through reinforced door after reinforced door, Griffin arrived at a huge room which was filled with young men, tattooed and wearing Viking helmets and black T-shirts with the White on White logo. Duke led him through the crowd, up to the podium at one end and introduced him with the words: "the British are coming, Yee ha" and he was standing there above them, an Aryan among Aryans. His voice rang through the room and his audience’s eyes glittered.
"The British National Party isn't about selling out its ideas, which are your ideas too. It’s about selling your ideas. That means using saleable words - freedom, security, identity, democracy.
"Nobody can criticise you, nobody can attack you on those ideas." Then, as he wanted to present a nobler vision than that of being a salesman, and to offer the heady sniff of power he went on, "Perhaps one day, by being rather more subtle, we'll control the British broadcasting media and then perhaps the British people might change their mind and say every single one must go.
"But if you hold it out as your sole aim to start with you are going to get nowhere, so instead of talking about racial purity, you talk about identity."
The room filled with applause, cheers and whooping. He left the podium; they stood up for him, shouting his name.
"That was great, Nicky," said Duke afterwards, at their final meeting in his office. "Keep up the fight, my Aryan warrior." He clapped him on the back, then grasping his arm with one hand, with the other he shook Griffin’s own hand heartily. When Griffin had gone, smiling modestly, the Duke opened a drawer, pulled out his trusty old bed sheet and wiped the lees of sweat away.
Yes, Griffin did feel like an Aryan warrior, but he knew he didn’t look like one He longed to be six foot two with blue eyes, not for his own vanity but because then he could lead the Movement and clear Britain of its dark filth. And after Britain, then Europe. But he had come a long way. The party was gaining momentum. They had a few councillors now. He himself had been voted in as an MEP. They were really going places against enormous odds. One day, if Hollywood was taken over by Duke’s kind instead of the liberal Jewish conspiracy, Russell Crowe would play him in a film, as he had played the gladiator Maximus or the Master and Commander. Or maybe Mel Gibson would be a better choice, the heroic Braveheart who had led his people to victory against the foreign invaders. Though they were English. . . But history had always confused him.
Now the sneering ultra left establishment that ran the BBC had asked him to appear on a political programme with four other guests. He would face them on their own ground and defeat them. He would stay calm, measured, a man of the people, not rising to their bait. He had briefed himself on the issues of the day, like that war in Afghanistan and the postal strike. This would be his start of the journey from the beer hall to the Reichstag. It would make a fine opening to the film.
While they were waiting in the studio for the cameras to roll he mentally cast the other panellists - Jack Straw (Ian Richardson or was he dead now?), Chris Huhne (some actor from The Bill), David Dimbleby (David Dimbleby) Baroness Sayeeda Warsi (Shilpa Shetty) and Bonnie Greer (Whitney Houston). In spite of their racial origins, both Warsi and Greer really were strikingly good looking women. There could be a fine scene in the film where they fought each other for his favours.
The programme began, and while the mongrel crowd howled and the Jew Straw waffled, he thought Warsi revealed herself to be a stuck up bitch, but Greer, sitting next to him, was speaking to him pleasantly, addressing him as "Nick". Her voice was beautiful and it was undoubtedly flattering that this cultured woman was listening to him with attention. She was getting the measure of him, feeling his worth. He moved a little closer to her. Someone mentioned the Holocaust. That old chestnut! Wouldn’t they ever get over it? He laughed it off. Someone else mentioned David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan. He grabbed at some words, "I was trying to make sure some youngsters weren’t led astray," he said, gulping a bit and a momentary vision of the Duke, in full bed sheet, hood and carrying a flaming cross, appeared before his eyes.
The hour long programme seemed to last forever but finally it ended. He’d been told there was usually a dinner after the show but no-one mentioned it. As he left the BBC building Bill Thugge, his body-guard, stood protectively close, but he was distant in his manner, and the red marks on his face where he had had his eagle and swastika tattoos removed were throbbing and angry looking. His other henchmen were avoiding his eyes.
"It wasn’t so bad was it?" he said to one of his lieutenants. "That Bonnie Greer was eating out of my hand, talking to me about history." The lieutenant was silent, then growled. "We’ll limit the damage as much as possible. Back to head-quarters to write a few press releases."
In her elegant flat Bonnie Greer was lying on her Ron Arad sofa listening to Laurie Anderson playing the violin with an edgy passion. The phone buzzed. Checking that the number was one on her approved list of callers, Bonnie answered it, nodding at Laurie, who put down her bow. "It’s Sayeeda here," said Baroness Warsi. "I wanted to see how you are after that ordeal."
Bonnie’s lovely low pitched voice was an octave higher than usual. "I’ve just had my third shower and thrown out the clothes I was wearing. Eerrgh, errgh. You know he nestled up to me. He was like some creep coming onto you in a pub."
"I’ve not had that experience," said Sayeeda. "But I literally felt for you, Bonnie. I felt my skin crawl for you. "
"Errgh, errgh, errgh, euch, euch," said the normally eloquent Bonnie. "He wanted to stay in touch. In touch! Euch, euch."
"David Duke called you," Griffin’s wife said curtly. She could barely bring out the words and she wouldn’t look at him.
Griffin’s hands were still shaking but he managed to dial the private number that he was proud of being one of the few to know.
"Hi there, Nicky," said Duke. "That was a surprise, you know. I invited you in good faith to address the young members of the Movement and you tell 8 million Limeys that it was to stop them from being led astray. I feel a bit hurt. Betrayed even."
Griffin swallowed. "I didn’t mean it, you know I didn’t. It’s all part of the public face," he said. "I can’t go on the BBC and say that I hang out with the Ku Klux Klan."
"Oh, I realise that," said Duke. "I was only teasing you. But you did screw up badly there, Nicky. What you said about me was a lie that anyone could have seen through, even the great British public morons. Don’t tell dumb lies like that. You should have stood with your head high. When they got on to that Holocaust crap you should have denounced the fact that thousands are held in European jails for talking about history. And why did you crawl to that black mammy who should be scrubbing your doorstep?" He went on for another quarter of an hour but at the end he said in a more kindly tone, "Come on. Nicky. There are young lions in our Movement. They want to hear you roar! Keep on with it, fellow warrior." He ended the call.
"He wasn’t pleased?" said his wife, coldly.
"It could have been worse."
"How?" said his wife. "If you had done a dance? It isn’t Russell Crowe or Mel Gibson who would play you in a film, it’s Ricky Gervais. The David Brent bloke. Because that’s what you looked like."
Griffin sighed, made up his milky Ovaltine, went to his bedroom and picked up Mein Kampf, which lay at his bedside. It had been a tough day. After a while he began to think of that chocolate voiced honey trap. She had come on to him, she had been deliberately trying to get him worked up with her hot, sexy, African ways. If it hadn’t been for her he would have parried the questions, Straw would have blown away, he would have impressed that Warsi woman and won over the folks at home. But she, the sultry bitch, she had screwed it for him. Adolf would never have agreed to appear on a platform with a black woman. He had let Adolf down.
He could hear his wife going to bed in the room next door. He must try and sleep. After putting on his black pyjamas with the death head pattern, he pulled back the duvet. There, lying on the fitted sheet, was a goat’s head. He gasped but did not scream. This happened about four times a year. Lee John Barnes, the party intellectual and legal adviser had broken in again after a sacrifice to Odin. He would be in a foul mood tomorrow, spilling his guts to the media, ranting to all and sundry. If only he could be got rid of. But Barnes had the footage of Griffin in a compromising position with ...
I was off sick for three days this week, and so lay around listening to Radio 4. On every news item the BNP’s appearance on Question Time was the lead item or one or two down. It's been driving me barmy. How X at the BBC responded to Y criticising the decision to put them on. Y would then be interviewed. On the next news broadcast the news item would sound, “Speaking on the Today programme, Y said that the decision to” . . . and so on. The news became one of those closed cycle systems where shit - compost - food - shit. Also, to add to the surreality, people get the two acronyms BBC and BNP mixed up, so you’d hear some BBC spokesman saying, "It's not remiss of the BBC to have the BBC on Question Time. The BBC won a certain amount of the vote at the European elections.". The Beeb and my part of blogosphere have gone on about nothing else.
It's like a royal wedding. Speculations about The Other People on the Panel. Groans at the make up of the Panel. Interview with Griffin's make up girl (her retching). Comments from Gok Wan about the cut of Griffin's suit. Body language experts saying that Griffin is relaxed/uneasy/lying (‘cos you saw his lips moving). Columnists murmuring, It was a grey day at the end of an Indian summer and the protesters were falling like leaves. I was back at work today. We get the latest feeds from the BBC news and every third item has been about the BNP, Nick Griffin and the BBC
Manipulated by the media? I can feel its oil covered hands massaging every bloody muscle in my brain and a puppet master jerking at my eyes so I end up focussing all three on Question Time, which is something I have never watched for more than 10 minutes in my life before. It pisses me off like mad that I’ve got sucked into it as well.
I've also been listening to Clive James's latest instalment of his autobiography, The Blaze of Obscurity, which tells of his time as an interviewer. He said, "Television gives a general impression. Nobody ever remembers what you said, but everybody remembers how you came over." So only the anoraks will be listening for inconsistencies and impossible policies in Griffin's answers. The rest will have their minds made up or else may just notice that as well as being a fascist he is also a horrible guy.
I’ve been on holiday in Croatia and Montenegro, which is why this blog has gone silent. In spite of the best efforts of Heathrow’s security systems I got back home last night. My flatmate told me I hadn’t missed anything here since the only news has been about Michael Jackson and Andy Murray. Jackson was all over the Croatian press as well, and we got snippets if we were staying in a place with a television that received CNN. CNN is thoroughly irritating as on any international news item about eg Iran about half the time is taken up with telling you that 67% of the American public polled approve of how the President is handling the situation. The parochial in full pursuit of the unknowledgeable.
Some song writing, some verse writing and too much blogging about culture, politics, cycling and gardening.