A few years ago, I discovered, to my dismay, that it is a popularly held belief that children’s author Enid Blyton was something of a racist. I was quite disappointed to learn this as the Famous five books were a big part of my early childhood.
I was even more taken aback by recent claims against Belgian author and illustrator Hergé. I love the Tintin books and still read them today. Audrey is also a big fan and is especially fond of having L’Etoile Mystérieuse read to her at bedtime. Though she regards Snowy as something of a coward, I secretly think that she has a crush on him.
To make matters even worse, I had the unfortunate experience of watching a documentary on Channel 4 the other evening whose subject was obese, northern comedian Bernard Manning, one of my favourite recently-deceased bigots. Apparently, our Bernard was also something of a raving racist. In the programme, someone said of him: ‘No matter what you think of Bernard or how much of a hate-filled chauvinist you may think he is, he did, nonetheless, have a talent that couldn’t be ignored.’
(I do love a challenge – Comedy Ed.)
And now, would you believe it, I have just been reliably informed by a husky-voiced child-psychologist-cum-local-radio-presenter (with a Dutch accent) that top schoolboy wizard Harry Potter is in fact gay. I tell you this: I am glad I was listening to Derbyshire Farming Today earlier on, or I would have gone on living my life suffering under some very serious delusions indeed.
‘Twas ever thus.
On the Fantastic hi-fi today:
The Impossible Bird – Nick Lowe
Song to a Seagull – Joni Mitchell
I think that I have been single and living alone for too long.
Well, I am not alone exactly – I share my life with Audrey, the most beautiful little dog in the world – but I am without woman.
The reason I say this now is because my days have been filled recently with one domestic disaster after another – a situation I believe would be vastly improved by the presence of a female in the Fantastic household. Such a person would be a welcome and practical addition and could perhaps sometimes alleviate the depressing nature of the wretched and embarrassing situations in which I often find myself.
Take yesterday for instance: falling over on my back in public and momentarily losing consciousness. It wasn’t that bad, I suppose – it was merely another moment of abject failure that will haunt me forever, nothing more than that. But had someone been there with me to help and to laugh, I am sure that I would not have felt so awful about it.
And now today, I have stupidly and inadvertently dyed my beloved white Fred Perry jacket a jolly shade of blue by deftly placing a similarly coloured pillowcase into the washing machine with it – something a far-sighted and prudent woman would never have allowed me to do, I am sure.
I know that I am fortunate in some respects: I do not have to suffer the ignoble and miserable facets of a stale and unhappy relationship. But on the other hand, constantly having to engage in activities that you detest with someone that you no longer love is the price that anyone would happily pay to avoid a lifetime of loneliness, is it not?
And the truth is, I do feel incredibly forlorn and emotionally ill-equipped at times. I am beginning to think that a female human companion would help in this singular respect – not to mention the practical side of things.
(And the extra income would be a bonus! – Household Finances Ed.)
On the Fantastic hi-fi today:
Marquee Moon – Television
Forever Changes – Love
Due to a fractured ankle bone, I have been forced to take a couple of days off and have had the unfortunate experience of having to endure the execrable nonsense that is daytime television.
I have only had half an eye on the screen – I have been reading Spares by Michael Marshall Smith, mostly – but that has been far more than any man should ordinarily have to suffer.
The worst programme I have seen is Deal or No Deal in which a cynical presenter (Noel Edmunds – who is so patronising, his nightmares are afraid of him) tortures greedy participants who are trying to ‘win’ a sum of money. There is no skill involved; it is more or less a matter of the contestant having to wait an hour or so before finding out what proportion of £250,000 they can take home with them. There is a piece of software called The Banker that calculates various odds at regular intervals during the show with regard to the amount of cash that will be offered.
I have never watched such tedious and inane rubbish before in my life. It saddens me to see what drivel passes for entertainment these days and I am sure there is far worse.
Who are these depressing programmes actually aimed at – the nation’s morons? This is, of course, a purely subjective opinion and I know what you are going to ask: who made me Judge, Judy and executioner? To which I would reply: we deserve better. Turn off your television and go open a book. Me, I’m going to the library to have a cry.
On the Fantastic hi-fi today:
Someone to Drive You Home – The Long Blondes
First Impression of Earth – The Strokes
It’s easy to criticise the Eurovision Song Contest and the songs that the entrants sing; but spare a thought for all the poor songwriters on Tin Pan Alley, banging away in dusty closets, damp backrooms and frosty booths.
I think we would all agree that, as a whole, the work they produce for the contest isn’t always of the highest standard and doesn’t always have much musical or cultural value but – to my mind, at least – that does not diminish their valiant individual and collective efforts.
Indeed, there have been some memorable classics produced in the past: who can forget Abba’s Waterloo or Love Shine a Light by Katrina and The Waves? Who doesn’t remember with immense fondness such remarkable British creations as Lulu’s Boom Bang-a-Bang, Save Your Kisses for Me – Brotherhood of Man? And who, when buying provisions in Sainsbury’s, does not often find themselves absent-mindedly whistling the catchy melody of last year’s winsome and understated Finnish winner Hard Rock Hallelujah by Lordi?
Don’t scoff should you hear anyone mention the Eurovision Song Contest. Try not to dismiss out-of-hand the hard-working callow acts as they jiggle and spin through their elaborate, spastic dance routines. And don’t snigger or smirk at Terry Wogan’s cynical comments when the BBC transmits the final on to our television screens in May.
To say the whole affair is ridiculous and absurd would be to indulge in riotous understatement; but please, I sincerely implore you, consider your country’s invisible legion of much undervalued professional songwriters – they need your love and support.