Miscellany and detritus, from the writer of Is This Mutton?com

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bring back decent TV

Heaven forbid that I would mention the licence fee (too Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells for words), but it crossed my mind as I idly perused the TV guide that we watch hardly anything on the BBC channels these days. I am watching Masterchef, I own up to that, although I'm heartily fed up with the knowing looks that Torode exchanges with the "ingredients expert" (grocer) Wallace.

We also watch Coast, where I am fascinated by the umbrella that Nicholas Crane carries everywhere but never uses; and sometimes we like the costume dramas, although Lark's Rise to Candleford is the most appalling old tosh and didn't survive beyond the second week.

The various "comedies" don't get a look in, nor the tired old formats of Have I Got News For You, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Top Gear, etc etc.

(On the subject of comedies, does anyone really find "My Family" funny?).

"Extras" is OK sometimes; "Jam and Jerusalem" is very unfunny, which is sad considering the talent appearing in it.

We watch even less on ITV. Make that nothing on ITV.

I'm really hoping that 2008 is the year we turn against the reality shows. They were all OK when they first started and the people appearing on them weren't cynical or manipulated by the producers. Now most of these shows show the levels to which human nature can sink. Those various X Factor entertainment type shows manipulate those who take part and those who watch. People have recently told the papers about how they were forced to say x or y in shows like Wife Swap to make them more controversial. We glorify foul mouthed dysfunctional families like the Osbornes.

And don't get me started on the programmes which humilate the obese. Every week, the contents of someone's fridge is displayed and laughed at. In the ridiculous "Supersize v Superskinny," we're allowed to laugh at the eating habits of thin people too! I wish programmes would take obesity seriously and stop parading hectoring "experts" or patronising doctors.

All in all, it's a bleak picture. I would love to see the return of good old family entertainment. Shows with a feel good factor.

Strictly Come Dancing is a fabulous example because it can't really be manipulated (although the judges now bitch and moan similar to those on the X Factor). Dancing on Ice was hyped up this year to try to capitalise on the SCD factor but I turned off after the first 20 minutes. The music drives you mad and the staging looks very cheap and tacky.

Here's an idea for Channel 4. With all our prison overcrowding, why don't they introduce a show like "The Running Man" which stars real life convicts? To add a bit of spice it could be presented by a couple of disgraced or forgotten TV presenters. How about John Leslie.

If you see it in the next few months remember you read about it here first!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Good for you, Helena Bonham-Carter

A few years ago I didn't care much for Helena Bonham-Carter. She was always turning up in those dreary Merchant Ivory films, being posh and having the vapours as they used to say, and hadn't she had a thing with the dreadful Kenneth Branagh?

Anyway, over time I have warmed towards her. I understand she's into scrapbooking, like me (she was pictured at the big Alexandra Palace scrapping expo); she has a business venture where she and a friend customise jeans and bloomers, and, more importantly, she is a strong individualist when it comes to clothes.

Last week she was seen on the red carpet, promoting her latest film Sweeney Todd. She was wearing a red Vivienne Westward dress (good) but apparently, according to some of the bitchy fashionistas, her teeth were too yellow and she was showing signs of a moustache.

Well, given that she had a baby fairly recently, I think it's great that HBC was able to look fab on the red carpet and didn't give two hoots about getting out the Immac or spending hundreds on zoom whitening which gives you pearly molars for about a year and then they go back to normal minus some of the enamel.

I love it when she's seen out and about looking like a Trinny and Susannah "before." She's clearly happy doing her own thing, which can't be bad. I know that if I had to choose between her and Victoria Beckham for a girly gossip, I would be straight round to HBC's for a cup of builder's tea and a Hob Nob. All I would get at VB's would be detox tea and a carrot stick, I suspect (if she does carrots - they are carbs after all).

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Reminiscences about MyBlogLog

I took a nostalgic look at MyBlogLog today. It used to be a really hot and happening community of bloggers, but since a takeover by Yahoo, I find that many of the members of my "community" have not visited the site since July. They didn't want to have to merge their mybloglog ID with their Yahoo ID. I did do the merge, but I rarely visit the site now. It hasn't got any better functionality or features, and you still can't do a proper search to find current and regularly updated blogs in particular countries.

I felt quite nostalgic as I recalled the names of strangers whose sites I used to visit (and they reciprocated): Lady Banana, Thomas Hamburger Jnr, Personal Trainer, Yack Yack, Retroattic, Rob Watts.

Some of their blogs are still regularly updated. I always enjoy Thomas Hamburger. His comments on Janet Street Porter this week were priceless.

Apart from the camaraderie of fellow bloggers, the site used to deliver great stats on visits to your site. But I hardly ever bother to check lately because Sitemeter does the same job.

Time to check out the latest blogging hotspot. In these transient times, what's hot in the blogosphere today is as dead as the dodo in six months' time.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Diana Farce

The Diana inquest is turning into a complete shambles. I heard on the radio today that the inquest was told that Tony Blair was said to have flirted with her at an official dinner. What's that got to do with her death? The whole thing has become a salacious charade with the tabloid press in a feeding frenzy. Her so-called friends and trusted advisors (or rocks, whatever they want to call themselves) have all been contradicting each other and the inquest seems suspiciously light on any real evidence.

I hoped the inquest would put to rest the ridiculous claims about a murder plot, the over-positioning of the Dodi relationship and the nonsense about her being pregnant. But it seems these claims will stil perpetuate because we aren't getting definitive answers. We see some sweet letters from Prince Philip but we're told there were nasty ones. One of her friends says Dodi was important, Paul Burrell says he wasn't. We hear there WAS a ring, but it was a friendship ring only (and besides, she would surely have been insulted if if an "engagement" ring only cost £15k!).

The whole thing is a nonsensical shambles. Prince Charles and Prince Philip should have been called as witnesses, otherwise the rest is Chinese Whispers at best. But that was never likely to happen, so we're wasting vast amounts of taxpayers' money on keeping The Sun afloat for the duration of the inquest.

Note to Victoria

I see Mrs Beckham was voted worst dresser in Mr Blackwell's list of 2007. Highly justified, judging by the latest photos of her in a lime green ensemble. I noticed in Hello recently that both Katie Holmes (one of VB's friends) and Angelina Jolie were seen sporting glamorous outerwear at red carpet events. Outerwear? Yes, shock horror, a stylish raincoat in the case of Ms Jolie, and a gorgeous coat in the case of Katie. Let's hope their example will put paid to the spectacle of VB, and hundreds of ladies in Newcastle, wearing sleeveless dresses at night with no coat and no tights!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Remembering a great but forgotten writer

Another new year. Another set of resolutions. Well - with a difference. Only nice resolutions. I'm through with those draconian "must lose 2 stone" type resolutions. It amuses me no end to see the local gym stuffed to the gunnels in Jan with earnest new joiners, fleeced for a year's membership only to stop attending after the first three or four weeks.

My resolutions are: go to the theatre/cinema or an exhibition at least once a month: stop buying so many magazines; stop spending so much money on "stash" (scrapbook supplies) and read a classic novel at least once a month.

On the subject of classic novels, or novels in general, The Times' List of the Greatest British Writers since 1945 was a must-read. Inevitably, one always disagrees with a list like this in some respect. The online version already has 68 comments. I thought the top five was largely spot on, with Philip Larkin in pole position. I do disagree with the inclusion of JK Rowling and Ian Fleming in the top 50. Both have written global best-sellers but I doubt if their novels will stand the test of time. They're not particularly well written. I also disagreed with Salman Rushdie and his pompous pretentious tosh being in the top 10. And I was amazed Ian McKeown was in the lowly 30s.

Mostly though, I was appalled at the omission even from the long list of Bernice Rubens. A former Booker prize winner, she wrote the most fascinating, observant and quirky studies of human nature. A couple of her books, "I Sent A Letter to My Love" and "Madame Souzatza" were made into films. One of my biggest regrets is that I didn't ever send her a letter saying how much I enjoyed her work, because she died a couple of years ago just before her autobiography was published.

My gran wrote to one of her favourite writers, Catherine Cookson, and received a charming reply. It's not the reply I miss, but the fact that I didn't tell her how spell binding I found most of her novels. She is a forgotten gem.
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