November 23rd, 2014


Daylight Haunting

There was a ghost in the Tandoori restaurant, flickering about behind Ailz's left shoulder. "I think it's a woman," she said, "by the hair.
It seemed to keep traversing the same few feet of floor. "She's a Victorian shopkeeper," I opined, "Coming out of an inner room to greet her customers."

It Was Alright In The Seventies.

Here's a clever idea. The archives of the TV companies are full of shows too offensive ever to be shown again in their entirety. What on earth should we do with them? I know; let's repackage the worst bits as social history.

The bad art of a period of social change is always going to be more embarrassing than the bad art of a period of stability: the old certainties have gone, the new ones are still being crafted;  the ground is all churned up and because the artists are persons of limited intelligence and imagination it's as if they are wearing blindfolds- and the puddles and ruts receive them. The '70s were a decade of sexual revolution, women's liberation and mass immigration. There was just so much to get wrong. Here's Frankie Howerd, a closeted gay man of a certain age- out of touch, going with the flow and- there are girls and black entertainers on stage with him and- oh dear, o dear, o dear!  And here's an episode of the Goodies that believes it's sending up apartheid. Let's just say they meant well. Bill Oddie as he now is has been corralled into watching his younger self slinging the racist epithets around. He squirms, tries to come up with excuses and fails. "I'd rather not go there," he says.

But, really, could we be where we are now if we hadn't been there first? How would we know what the unacceptable looks like if we hadn't seen it. Trial and error,  boys, trial and error.