Saturday, January 17, 2009

At last, a birth to document. A dear friend, who's interviewed more authors than I've had hot dinners as well as writing a couple of books himself, has started a blog about the life of a man of letters in cash-strapped London town. Visit my fellow flaneur at Libradoodle.

Friday, January 16, 2009

All things considered, it's been a bastard of a week: we've lost Stewart Morris, Angela Morley, Patrick McGoohan, Ricardo Montalban and now Sir John Mortimer. Has anyone unpleasant and/or useless died during the same period to help redress the balance?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I've just heard that Angela Morley has died. Another great gone.
More joyous Stewart Morris, this time from the 1979 BBC VT Christmas tape, Good King Memorex:

I'm no environmental activist. I do my bit with tin cans, yogurt pots and composting, I cycle everywhere and I have a beard, but that's about it. However, I'm outraged at the Government approving the expansion of Heathrow Airport. How, in the name of Cribbins, can they claim to be committed to a green agenda while permitting this sort of thing? Rhetorical question: it's because they're lying bastards.

UPDATE: Superb work, John McDonnell. Just a shame you didn't bop that prannet Hoon on the head with the Mace.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The sad news reaches me from Bernie Newnham, ex-BBC TV producer and now proprietor of the must-read Tech Ops broadcasting history site, of the death of Stewart Morris, last Saturday, at the age of 78. Stewart was one of the great showman-producers of BBC light entertainment's golden age, possibly even the greatest.

He was feared by his crews for his high-octane approach to production and his impatience with any minor cock-ups, but loved and respected by the same crews because he cared so much and produced such sparkling results. Probably the best-known example of his modus operandi is the illicit recording of his talkback from the 1977 Eurovision Song Contest, a night when tits up seemed to be the likely outcome on more than one occasion. He kept it on the rails, at the price of a few deafened and mildly offended colleagues.

He gave me a wonderful interview for Turned Out Nice Again and had, very generously, agreed to another interview for my next book. I was looking forward to visiting him at home in Chiswick, and trying not to let my laughter overwhelm the recording, but that's not to be. RIP Stewart.
Saturday morning found me in the British Library, looking up various details for my next book. Having left my laptop at home in the interests of productivity and my left shoulder, I found myself on a public terminal. The conditions for their use include not checking your emails, not visiting forums and certainly not seeing how your eBay auctions are doing. So, there I was, using the mouse wheel to scroll through a newspaper article database for transmission date details, when the chap next to me tapped me on the arm and said "Why don't you use the arrow keys?", the quiet prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp of the mouse wheel having evidently distracted him. Through the narrowed eyes with which I regarded him, I realised that this was the chap from the front desk who'd checked my reader's pass and waved me through about 10 minutes before, and that he was bleeding well LOOKING AT USED CAR LISTINGS on the 'Bay. And that, dear reader, is why Britain is going to hell in a handcart.