October 9th, 2004

The Apprentice

I hadn't realized the Apprentice was such a big deal. Here in Britain it's playing on a minor channel. It hasn't caused a stir and it probably never will. It's too American for us. Last night Trump took the winners to see some football manager no Britisher will ever have heard of (sorry guys) and they hugged and Trump said "you're a special guy" and the football manger said "you're a special guy too," and they were effusive and sentimental with one another to the point where (if they'd have been Brits) I'd have been expecting them to rip one another's clothes off. It was all very foreign and embarrassing.

So too is the emphasis on winning, winning, winning. Here in Britain it's still the case that we love a good loser. Bragging makes us wilt. Self belief is all very well, but you're supposed to muffle the edges with ironic humour.

We're more devious, more dissembling. Look at Blair- the shit-eating grin, the catch in the voice, the doe-eyed modesty- that's the British style. I'm not sure I don't prefer American braggadocio. You got power? well enjoy it, radiate it, be what you are!

But here's one piece of cultural crossover. When Trump says "you're fired"; I'm hearing the governessy tone of our very own Anne Robinson. "You're the weakest link; goodbye!" Oddly enough, where she's sarky and dismissive all the time, he does his best to massage the self-esteem of his young people and it's only the final line that's so frosty. I find, to my surprise, that I'm liking him. But what's with the pompadour? So far as I can make out he's combing it forward from way back then fixing it with spray- oh and dyeing it bright orange. Why would anyone in their right mind want to look like that?

A Room Of One's Own

A Room of One's Own is not what I expected. Woolf sidles up to her theme, employing an old-fashioned style- facetious and flowery- rather in the manner of Charles Lamb- and distinctly inferior to the style of her novels. I guess this is strategic. You're about to whop the patriarchy round the head, so you mince and mow as you advance on it, hoping to charm the brute- and you keep the cudgel hidden behind your back. If your're lucky you'll be out the room before it figures what happened. In some ways I'm disappointed. I'd expected something tighter and angrier. The Edwardian floridity pisses me off. The humour is laboured.