Thursday, March 13, 2008

I was determined to stay well out of the chain letter book meme thing currently infesting bloggery, but when a man as nice and good as Matthew Rudd asks one to step up to the plate, only a real churl could refuse. The idea is to turn to page 123 of the book you're currently reading, count down three sentences, then reproduce the next five sentences. Five-Centres has made the whole thing more interesting by making people guess the book, so I'll follow his template. Interestingly, I don't think I'd guess this book from the following lines, but there are other passages elsewhere that would identify the author and title straight away:

"Faithful Unto Death was in the assembly room, and I frequently had a chance to examine it. At nine on the dot, while we all stood in makeshift rows under the supervision of one of the mistresses, Miss Yates would make her entrance. 'Good morning, everybody,' she would say briskly, and we in our piping and ragged trebles, but with all the enthusiasm which children experience in fulfilling a ritual, would answer her in unison: 'Good morning, Miss Yates.' What then took place was some form of non-denominational prayers, for several of the pupils were Jewish or Catholic, followed by a hymn, usually 'All things Bright and Beautiful' accompanied by Miss Gibbons or Miss Edwards at the upright piano.

It was seldom however that this daily scenario went through without a hitch."

If you want clues, it's from one of the four massively entertaining volumes of autobiography written by a cultural all-rounder who died recently.

I now nominate James Masterton, Adam Macqueen and Richard Lewis.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I now own a David Hockney original. That's it on the left, embodying the great artist's current crusade against the absurdities of the nanny state. I can't resist a good badge, and when I saw others at the Oldie of the Year awards yesterday wearing theirs, I quite shamelessly bounded up to him and asked if he had any left. Thankfully he did, and I shall now wear it with great pride.

He was there to receive the Gasper of the Year award for his vocal opposition to the smoking ban. I was there on the strength of my occasional modest contributions to the Oldie's pages, and, as ever, I was profoundly glad that I had been invited. How else would a herbert down from Lowestoft on a £6 apex super advance ticket get to flirt outrageously with the utterly wonderful Moira Stuart, be reduced to tears of laughter by the equally fab Kate Adie or sit six feet away from Peter O'Toole as he held forth on rugby and the US election? Or to witness Stanley Baxter slaying the whole room with the best, funniest acceptance speech I've heard in 10 years of attending the do.

However, the great thrill of my day occurred in the pub before the do, when Barry Cryer - who, after 10 years of bumping into each other at Oldie functions and on licensed premises, I'm lucky enough to regard as a friend - introduced me to David Nobbs. Comedy writers have been my heroes ever since I first learned to read programme credits, and there aren't many who can match those two for quality and quantity of material. Baz doesn't keep a blog, but David Nobbs does, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

As Brian Matthew's Sounds of the Sixties is to my Saturday morning, so TV Burp is to Saturday teatime. It's the only way I am ever likely to have any contact with, or knowledge of, BBC3's Freaky Eaters, which has become one of Harry's favourite Aunt Sallies (When Harry Hill Met Aunt Sally? Is Eunice Tubbs available? Commission x 13). Last night's Burp featured a Freaky Eaters clip in which a woman who ate only bread, tinned spaghetti hoops and tomato soup threw her entire supply away, opening each tin and emptying it into the bin. Now, I know it wouldn't have made for 'great telly' (ahem), but how much less wasteful and offensive it would have been to give the bread to the ducks and take all the tins to a local homeless shelter, or just hide them in the loft until harvest festival. Silly cow and silly fucking 'documentary' makers.