While I’m very glad - and perhaps a little surprised - that Her Maj is a fan of Samuel Beckett, I’m also rather disturbed to hear that she thinks of his most famous play in the same breath as Last of the Summer Wine, a BBC sitcom that, for some completely inexplicable reason, audiences have continued to tune into in their goggle-eyed millions and find hilarious since 1973 (though not for much longer, thankfully).
Unless, of course, the Queen is thinking more laterally. Maybe I’m not giving her enough credit for her artistic insight. After all, one interpretation of Waiting for Godot is that it’s about two old men waiting for death. And Last of the Summer Wine is certainly about three old blokes waiting for death - just with the dubious added ‘pleasure’ of watching them roll down a hillside in a tin bath over and over again until you also lose the will to live. Oh, my sides are splitting. Stop, please, this comedic mirth is too much. I’m collapsing in fits of hysterical laughter while inwardly screaming “WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO DIE? OH FOR GOD’S SAKE, WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO DIE?”
Next week: the Queen reveals that she’s a huge fan of Eugene Ionesco. And Dancing on Ice.
"… photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) undertook a photographic survey of the Russian Empire with the support of Tsar Nicholas II. He used a specialized camera to capture three black and white images in fairly quick succession, using red, green and blue filters, allowing them to later be recombined and projected with filtered lanterns to show near true color images. The high quality of the images, combined with the bright colors, make it difficult for viewers to believe that they are looking 100 years back in time …"
It’s Saturday! Time to celebrate! And I think I might have a David Miliband party tonight, just to really get the weekend going with a swing. You know: nibbles, chilled drinks, and all done and dusted by 9.00pm. Who’s up for it? Oh come on, you can’t all be mysteriously “washing your hair”. (Note to self: order in absinthe, methylated spirit and a packet of rusty razorblades for when the festivities really gets going.)
And they say politics is being dumbed down. What a truly scandalous suggestion.
“We hear many complaints about the prevalence of violence in modern fiction, and it is always assumed that this violence is a bad thing and meant to be an end in itself. With the serious writer, violence is never an end in itself. It is the extreme situation that best reveals what we are essentially, and I believe these are times when writers are more interested in what we are essentially than in the tenor of our daily lives.”—Flannery O’Connor
This revelation is doing my inferiority complex absolutely no good whatsoever. Also, I’m pretty certain that this news brings an end to my dreams of achieving fifteen minutes of fame. Because, really, we are just a speck of dirt on the universe’s shoe and everything is just utterly meaningless. I’m off to stick to my head in the oven.
I suffering from recurring bouts of this. But I suspect I’m not alone, and that it afflicts the vast majority of office-bound drones. Powerpoint was seemingly invented for the purpose of curing insomnia.
“When you’re consciously trying to write, the words just don’t come out. Every sentence is a creaking struggle, and staring out the window with a vague sense of desperation rapidly becomes a coping strategy. To function efficiently as a writer, 95% of your brain has to teleport off into nowhere, taking its neuroses with it, leaving the confident, playful 5% alone to operate the controls. To put it another way: words are like cockroaches; only once the lights are off do they feel free to scuttle around on the kitchen floor.”—
I always love Charlie Brooker’s columns in The Guardian - well, of course I do, since he’s the only person standing in the way of me thinking that I am undoubtedly the world’s most unforgivably hard-hearted, passive-aggressive cynic - but his latest missive is particularly memorable and appropriate. I have read it five times straight through already this morning. His point about getting a deadline in order to provoke writing and forget about those circling and constantly nagging doubts like fear, luck and talent is unerringly accurate. It is, I suspect, what I need. The literary equivalent of a thorough kicking.
So who wants to commission me to write for them - and give me that deadline? Any offers?
This is insane. And brilliant. On a dedicated blog, Brian McCloskey is putting up scans of the covers of near-legendary (well, in my lifetime anyway) teen music magazine Smash Hits, thirty years to the day after they were published. So right now, it’s 1980 all over again. Moreover, click on those covers and you can read scans of the inside pages on Flickr.
Even now, the internet continues to amaze me. Also, I am currently feeling truly, horribly truly ancient. [via Tom Ewing on Twitter]
There are some things that global advertising agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi, no matter how powerful and all-encompassing they think they are, shouldn’t really try their hands at. Like - oh, I don’t know - crowdsourcing the aim of trying to bring an end to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict by inviting members of the public to contribute their ‘big ideas’.
Look, here’s the thing, you Saatchi suits in your meejah luvvie braces. The great unwashed public are, in the main, a pretty decent bunch. The majority of human beings are level-headed, sensible people who will try and come up with positive ways of tackling problems. (I know, I know, it’s amazing that I retain such faith in humanity in the face of so much evidence to the contrary, but there you go - I’m a sad old hippie, really).
The exception to the above rule are - and here comes the sweeping generalisation - people who comment on websites asking for their views, their ideas, even their policies. ‘Crowdsourcing’ is currently a fashionable buzzword in social media circles, but if you can’t fathom that smart jargon try thinking of it instead as an open shop for every extremist nutter to sign up for the right to spout their unpleasant views in public and, worst of all, even be taken moderately seriously.
Don’t believe me? I point you in the direction of the new UK coalition government’s attempts at crowdsourcing: the Spending Challenge and Your Freedom websites. On the former, you can tell the government which areas of public expenditure should be cut in order to reduce the deficit. Cue long messages - written in the internet equivalent of green ink - from all those who immediately want to air their grievances about, as they see it, the money being needlessly frittered away on providing for single mothers, workshy layabouts, illegal immigrants, gays, lesbians, disabled people, etc. Meanwhile, on the second site, you can - after watching an introduction from the kindly (and supposedly caring) face of Nick Clegg - suggest laws that should be repealed and regulations that should be changed. On the basis of the previous example, I don’t think I need to explain what sort of idiots will be spouting their views here.
Now, the public are going to contribute their wise thoughts to the massive task of bringing peace to Israel and Palestine. While I’ll be very happy if I’m proved wrong, I expect most of the suggestions will make former President George W. Bush look like an expert at the delicate business of international diplomacy. Yes, that bad.