February 26th, 2013


Black Mirror 3: The Waldo Moment

Good timing. The day after this aired we learn that a party headed by a comedian has won 54 seats in the Italian parliament. Meanwhile, back here in Britain, Labour is running a comedian in the Eastleigh by-election; he's not doing very well but that's because he's not a very good comedian. Put him on a panel and he talks like any other party hack. If he came on like Waldo- all insults and dick jokes- we might see some action.

The last of the current series of Black Mirror starts off as a condemnation of politics as usual, then swings round 90 degrees. Waldo the blue bear may be a load of laffs but you wouldn't want him running things. Nihilism doesn't build roads.  Politics as usual may be utterly contemptible but it's all that stands between us and something much, much worse.

The Hundred Years War

I've been enjoying Janina Ramirez's series on The Hundred Years War. I knew about Crecy and Agincourt but I'd never even heard of the Battle of Castillon- which lost us Gascony. We slaughtered the French with our long bows, they went away and thought about it for several decades, then came back with guns. The popular histories I absorbed as a kid left out that last bit. Brave Talbot was squashed by his horse, got swatted by a man with an axe and could only be identified from his dental records. Ramirez is appreciative of the Duke of Bedford- loyal, a great soldier and diplomat; also a devoted Francophile; hey, he burned Joan of Arc- poor kid- but- no hard feelings- that was business. There's a part of me that's sorry England and France didn't get united under a single crown (I hadn't realized before how close we came to that happening- what with Henry VI getting himself crowned Rex Christianissimus in Notre Dame de Paris)  but Ramirez assures me that getting chased back into our little island was what made us the bulldog breed we are and that's not something a patriotic English person can regret. We went into the War with a French-speaking nobility and came out the far side with all of us speaking and writing English, a wholly native style of architecture and a healthy disrespect for the divine right of kings.

Ikea, Roy Lichtenstein, Digging Up Audrey

Ikea has taken its meatballs off the menu because a batch turned out to be tainted with horse. Ailz had a lamb shank instead. I had beef.  We go to Ikea for the scented candles and cheap washing up brushes but always come back with much, much more.

Dave Gibbons thinks it's screwy that Roy Lichtenstein's paintings go for millions of dollars while copies of the comic books he was ripping off can be had for peanuts. I agree. Alastair Sooke devoted a whole episode of the Review Show  to arguing that Lichtenstein wasn't a one-trick pony. but I wasn't convinced. It's not that I hate pop art- I think Warhol is a god- only that I find Lichtenstein over-rated. Incidentally, Andy hit on the comic book idea independently and at the same time as Roy. When he saw Roy had got his stuff into the galleries first he switched to soup cans. Andy never stopped trying out new things; Roy, on the other hand, went on painting dots for the rest of his life.

There's an ad for some horrible chocolate bar that uses a computer generated simulacrum of the young Audrey Hepburn. It's not the first time this sort of thing has been done but I guess the joins are getting harder and harder to spot. I think it's tantamount to grave robbing.