Saturday, October 11, 2008

For years now, I've been keeping informal tabs on who might possibly deserve the title of greatest living Englishman. Until now, Sir David Attenborough has been the clear leader, but, after last night's Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, he's got a challenger in the form of Sir Roger Moore. He was the sort of chat show guest you don't think they make anymore. Funny, twinkly, and with a neat line in Tony Curtis impersonations. Meanwhile, the genuine gleam in his eye when Wossy produced a gigantic pork pie (his favourite nosh) in lieu of a birthday cake was immensely endearing, as was saying "Is it Wall's?" in the manner of an Antiques Roadshow expert (Actually it was Fortnum and Mason's, and judging by the look on his face as he tucked in, they make an exceedingly good pie).

He gained points a while back, when it emerged that Sir Ben Kingsley was being a bit of a ninny and berating crew members who didn't genuflect in front of him and call him Sir Ben. I contrasted this with the story of a relatively junior crew member approaching Moore, asking how he preferred to be addressed and getting the reply "Call me Rog".

I think that Attenborough minor still just shades it, but the hat is doffed to Rog and his pork pies. Any other GLE nominations?
Going through the stats for this blog, I see quite a few people using Google Chrome. Nice, isn't it? However, I can't help wondering how long it will be before the first high-profile Google Chrome 'incognito window' divorce or sacking. They bill it as enabling undetected access for the purposes of present buying and surprise holiday planning. Yeah, right. It's like the cotton bud packets that tell you not to stick the contents in your ear, when that's their main purpose. The incognito window is for slacking and wanking.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The book reviews I've been doing lately and the impending publication of my new book Turned Out Nice Again: the story of British light entertainment have caused me to think far too deeply about approaches to reviewing. The one that annoys me most is the reviewer who tells you how they would have written the same book, and that the approach taken by the author is, as a result, worthless. As far as I'm concerned, a reviewer's job is to say whether the book works or not, and, if not, why not. There are many ways to reach the same conclusion, and to suggest that you have the one true path is appalling arrogance.

The other thing that annoys me is reviewers who think they're the main feature rather than a mildly illuminating sideshow. When my first book-shaped thing came out, one reviewer spent roughly half of the article talking about his own life and career before summarising the book dismissively in a couple of paragraphs at the end. Among his more perceptive comments, he said that the book was dense and confusing in places, which it was. It was a dense, confusing subject and, several years on, I'm happy to admit that I bit off a bit more than I could chew (I'm still enormously proud of the book, but I did feel the need to lob in the kitchen sink - I'd write it a bit differently now). However, as an example of density and confusion, he chose to quote a bit that I wrote in a quite deliberately dense and confusing manner (think Danny Kaye doing the vessel with the pestle) to show what a cat's cradle of guff the record industry had become.

Anyway, get yer lovely pre-orders in for the perfect stocking filler here.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Thanks go out to Sparks for flagging this up. It's the once-underrated, now-feted (and deservedly so) Craig Ferguson saying roughly the same things I think about the current financial situation, only in a far more funny manner and in front of an audience of millions.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

How's this for missing the point? The Phillipine Embassy is denouncing the BBC for a sketch in a recent Harry and Paul show, depicting a middle-class householder trying to mate his neighbour's Filipina maid with his own pet Geordie. This one, in fact, just after the opening titles (embedding's been disabled, so you'll have to click through). Meanwhile, an outfit calling itself the Philippine Foundation is describing the sketch as "tantamount to racism and [the] worst sexual abuse and exploitation of the hapless young Filipina domestic worker employee". Er, no. Context is everything. Regular viewers of this rather good series (streets ahead of last year's Ruddy Hell, It's Harry and Paul) will know that the middle-class white bloke and his neighbour are the figures of ridicule in this sketch. The sort of people who can afford domestic staff and who regard them as mere livestock (I should point out for benefit of the clueless that not everyone who employs domestic staff is like this). If the mob in the Philippine Embassy and their mates in the Foundation took a deep breath before flying off the handle, they might realise that Enfield and Whitehouse are actually on their side.