10:58am Wednesday 26th October 2011
Television advertising is dire. Once advertisements were the best thing on television. Remember the sophisticated couple who fell in lust over an instant coffee and the little lad with the big bicycle trudging home to the sound of Dvorak, and the humour of the man with the hapless comb-over in the photo booth who takes comfort in a mild cigar, and the sheer artistic genius of the Guinness advertisements? Happy days.
9:44am Wednesday 21st September 2011
11:53am Wednesday 31st August 2011
At a time when young people up and down the country are opening envelopes to find their exam results, prompted by Lord Jones, who was Trade Minister under Gordon Brown, I have been considering the state of education. Lord Jones has been advocating that unruly pupils should leave school at 14 to go straight to work or undertake apprenticeships. His thought is that it would be better for all, including the economy, if they could be in the workplace rather than staying in academic life for which they are not suited. On the face of it a great idea.
3:02pm Wednesday 23rd March 2011
I confess I do not understand why, as I write this, our RAF fighter jets are bombing Libya and our UK submarine is launching missiles. Mr Cameron is convinced that it is the right thing to do and he keeps telling us that. The aim is to destroy the tanks and weapons of war that we sold to Colonel Gadaffi just a few years ago. A pity really that we didn't just take all those armaments and put them in a field near Salisbury and blow them up saving us the bother of exporting them and the risk to civilian life. But, of course, we wanted the money for them, didn't we, Mr Tony Blair? So, forgive me, Mr Cameron if I see these doomed wars that politicians find so irresistible, as exercises in economics. But what is economics? If it were just about the bottom line then it would be accountancy. We sell you tanks, we destroy tanks, you have to buy new tanks. Works for me.
11:59am Wednesday 9th March 2011
Does anyone want two televisions? From the moment the huge piece of wooden furniture incorporating our television was wheeled into our sitting room in the 1950's I have been an addict. There has seldom been a moment since when the set has had time to cool down and I've seen it all. Even during our time in Croatia in 1995 during the height of the Balkan war when we lived for six months on a lonely island we persevered with Croatian television although Mr Brain had to stand and hold the aerial nine feet off the ground on the balcony. In England if people won the Wheel of Fortune the prize was two Range Rovers and a bungalow in Rutland. In Croatia it was your weight in washing powder. Imagine what a dreadful plight you must find yourself in to agree to go on national television to be weighed in public at the end to get 10 stone of washing powder. And I say that as someone who break-danced on Big Brother. But no more. I can't take another programme. The sight of David Starkey, who I have met and can confirm is as snobbish and out of touch as on television, ridiculing an overweight child on 'Jamie's Dream School' was nasty. The fact it was allowed shows how insidious 'sneer television' has become. But I think it is the news coverage that has finally done for me. The events in Libya have a similar coverage to reality television or a football match but worse. 'Celebrity' presenters are flown in to act as journalists and any pretence at BBC impartiality has been thrown out in favour of a sort of frenzied excitement. The word 'democracy' is bandied about meaninglessly and there is no attempt to present facts, context or an over view. I sense that the so-called reporters don't really know where Libya is or where they are half the time. It all makes me so angry. But nothing makes me so furious as the photos of Gadaffi and Tony Blair canoodling just a few years ago. When will we learn to keep our noses out of other countries?
"A Portsmouth man believes he has found the way to talk to hedgehogs, although he does not know the meaning of what he says to them."
1:04pm Wednesday 9th February 2011
10:57am Wednesday 24th November 2010
The raggle taggle collection of non-entities called The Government is asking the Office of National Statistics to produce a measure to gauge Britain's national mood. The timing will be critical. The run up to Christmas may be a dangerous time to ask. There are those unhampered by good taste and with excess cash to waste on tawdry baubles and Chinese tat who will embrace the season, as will those whose only chance of being kissed is at the annual facilities departmental party. The rest may be burdened by a sense of religiosity, which can be a nuisance at any time but particularly inconvenient when there are over-priced computer games of a murderous nature to be bought and played, or simply feeling sad or lonely and not much impressed by the fantasy of Christmas as played out on television screens. All that bonhomie and ex-X Factor 'stars' will be too much to bear, plus the ever present fear of the sudden appearance of Cliff Richard.
9:33am Thursday 18th November 2010
It may surprise you to know that I receive what might be loosely called 'fan mail'. Unlike the uncritical adulation normally associated with such communications mine are of a more robust nature. One came recently signed 'your greatest admirer' and started, 'actually sometimes you can be quite interesting.' It is the 'quite' that most marks out my correspondents. While I should not be surprised by this I confess to some disappointment. I had secretly hoped to be employed as an agony aunt and had prepared myself with some pertinent advice and contemporary phrases. Like 'kick him to the kerb.' Rather, however, the advice flows in the other direction, me being the recipient.
'I've found a way to make my wife drive more carefully. I told her that if she has an accident, the newspapers would print her age.' Jan Murray
3:57pm Wednesday 27th October 2010
Years ago I owned a Porsche 911. It was black with red leather interior and as soon as I turned on the engine you could hear it yearning for Malcolm Campbell and land speed records. Modern cars are so self-driven that if you point them in the right direction they get you there. The Porsche needed driving. Male heads would turn to look at it and female eyes would narrow in satisfying jealousy. After years of sensible, utilitarian cars it should have been a joy to own. It was a nightmare. Vandals were drawn to it like WAGs to footballers, one even scraping his name on the pristine bodywork, the police took a regular interest in it – 'you were driving unnaturally slowly for a Porsche driver, madam' – and every other motorist saw it as a challenge. Servicing consumed my income.
'In the 1960s people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world's weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.' Damon Albarn
2:45pm Wednesday 6th October 2010
I never liked the Beatles. I thought their tunes thin and whiny and their lyrics mawkish and sentimental. 'Hey, Jude', 'Love, love me do' and 'Mull of Kintyre' are down there in my Ten Worst Records of All Time along with Frank Sinatra's 'My Way' and any school choir. I suspected that they pretended to be squeaky clean with their choir boy haircuts and silly suits but were really messing about with drugs. Whereas the Rolling Stones, who looked drugged up to their eye-balls and very dirty (both of which recommended them to me at the time), were living the rock and roll lifestyle while laying down fine wine in their cellars. Above all, the Stones looked like they were having a great time while The Beatles seemed the personification of misery. The Stones never explained themselves while the Beatles were full of pomposity and lecturing. Or so it seemed then. Because, beneath it all, the rivalry of their respective fans was based on a north/south divide and a snobbishness on the part of us southerners. For a start we more sophisticated and richer Kentish girls (I was a neighbour of young Jagger) would never like to be called 'fans'. We thought ourselves independent and politicized. Our very proximity to London made us, in our minds anyway, close to the centre of the universe and therefore part of it.