Archive for October, 2008

I want this plate

Posted in Life with tags , on October 30, 2008 by richardblandford

Jonathan Ross: Remember him this way

Posted in Film, TV with tags , , on October 29, 2008 by richardblandford

As Jonathan Ross looks set to go down in history as a granddad-bothering phone pest, it’s easy to forget that away years before the bulging pay packets and the mainstream talk shows, a lot of his output was dedicated to shining a spotlight on obscure subjects that would otherwise never get any TV coverage at all, such as in his masterful Incredibly Strange Film Show series from the late eighties, highlighting the work of Russ Meyer, Ed Wood, John Waters and the then-cult figure, Jackie Chan.  Just last year, Ross presented a fascinating documentary on the comic book artist Steve Ditko.  Maybe it’s time for him to stop showing the outline of his penis to Sarah Brightman in the name of entertainment (a service that could be more than competently provided by Anne Robinson) and get back to what he’s best at – communicating his passion for the weird fringes of culture to a mass audience.

Sting

Posted in Language, music with tags , , on October 27, 2008 by richardblandford

I’ve often been made to feel frustrated by the song Fields of Gold by Sting, the reason being that he never finds a rhyme for the word ‘barley’.

‘You’ll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley,’

it goes, only to be followed by the couplet,

‘You’ll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we walk in the fields of gold.’

The rest of the song is much the same with us being told of various things happening in the fields of barley, but each and every time, Sting cops out and instead of completing the rhyme, rounds things off with, to my mind, the poetically unsatisfying phrase, ‘fields of gold’.

This mystifies me, as there numerous ways he could have resolved it better. For instance:

You’ll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley,
You’ll think of the time I played football
With Bob’s son, Ziggy Marley.

Or,

You’ll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley,
You’ll be reminded of the time I tripped
On a tree root so old and gnarly.

Tamali, Kali, Salvador Dali, Joe Pasquale – there are so many ways Sting could have gone with this. But no, he bottled it, and went for the safe option of ‘Fields of Gold’. For this reason I have nothing but contempt for the man, indeed, hating him with the same passion I would normally reserve for a war criminal. Which I think is only fair.

Libraries

Posted in Books, Life with tags , , on October 21, 2008 by richardblandford

The future role of libraries has been a topic of discussion recently, with Culture Secretary Andy Burnham urging that, in an effort to raise levels of inclusivity, the use of mobile phones, snacks, computer games, chatter and general plebian behaviour be embraced rather than stamped under the sensible shoes of library assistants.  

My views on the matter are inevitably informed by my own personal experience of not so long ago, at what was until recently my local library.  Said library, which will remain nameless, had recently undergone significant refurbishment and, upon reopening, had followed the new noise-loving path advocated by Burnham.  

I went there one afternoon to do some research.  Outside on the courtyard was a drum ensemble giving a performance.  I presumed this was part of some horrible cultural festival thing that I ought to pretend to be in favour of, but no, it was actually a promotion for chocolate.  Once inside the library, the noise was only slightly dulled by the building’s glass frontage.  Although I’m sure what the drummers were doing was lovely, I found that try as I might, I couldn’t even concentrate enough to select the books I needed from the shelves, let alone sit down and try to use them.  I approached a member of staff and asked why this was allowed to be happening, and she told me that it was just something different and fun.  I begged to differ, and she gave me a complaints form to fill out.  I did so, gave it back to her, and as I walked away, I could see, out of the corner of my eye, her sharing it with a colleague and sniggering.  The effect of all this was that I was made to feel about eighty, isolated for actually trying to use the library for the very purpose I had up until that point presumed they existed for in the first place.

Now, I recognise that many find libraries intimidating.  It’s annoying and inconvenient that they do so, but they do.  This is a fact that has to be taken into consideration when thinking about how libraries are arranged and what goes on in them, or else they will not serve their communities, and they will indeed become a publicly-funded resource for the few.

Equally, however, those who want to carry out in-depth study, some work involving concentration, who want to read, or maybe even just need a bit of quiet, can’t be made to feel victimised and unwelcome. For many years, the studious, the quiet, the introverted and socially awkward, the marginalised and the plain mad have found solace in libraries, and to take away this one place they can truly call their own is an act of such cruelty, bordering on psychological violence, that only a New Labour minister could be so insensitive to actually be capable of it.

The answer surely, is just sensible division of space.  An inner study area, where most of the books are kept, and where the old ways of quiet and extreme sexual tension still rule.  Outside of this, an outer, more informal area, with music, computer games, coffee, mobile phones, klaxons and road drills, and a smaller selection of books and magazines for casual flicking, where the desired  social interaction and communal hubbery can take place.  If the noise from this area penetrates the inner sanctum of silence, however, then it can be considered to have got too loud.  In this way the socially awkward who are intimidated by people can maintain their sacred pace in the books and silence, and the socially confident who are intimidated by books and silence get to have a livelier place of their own.  Both will be intrigued by the other, and tentatively step into each other’s spaces, so that the jocks will get literature, and the nerds will get dates.   The cool kids will get with the squares, and throw a big high school prom right there in the library.  World peace will then be attained.

Revolt into Kitsch

Posted in Life with tags , , , on October 21, 2008 by richardblandford

The Corridor People

Posted in TV with tags , on October 20, 2008 by richardblandford

The Corridor People was a short-lived and rather odd TV series from the mid-sixties, in the vein of The Prisoner and The Avengers (although notably cheaper than both). Only four episodes were made, and apparently still exist in a vault somewhere, although no one seems in that much of a hurry to dig them out. Here are the first ten minutes of episode one.

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