Friday, 13 March 2015


mr sg and I were talking about Dr Tubby Ramirez, the telly historian, 

of how, like most of them,  she is so very much in the way and I recalled her first shows, in which  she managed  to thrust  her tits at us, repeatedly show us her spike heels and even introduce us to her kid,  Little Baby Tubby, all while she was lecturing us about Anglo-Saxon art. 
 I had visions of her cameraman, lying on a floor-level trolley, pulled along, following her up and down the aisle of Durham Cathedral, filming her shoes click-clacking, muttering, Swing that arse for me, tubby bitch; you know, like  they do in the pornography community. I half-expected talented angry gastronome, Jeremy Fuckhead, to burst  into the cathedral, like Becket's assassins, growling, Gimme somea that, I want somea that, Do you know who I am? I'm talent on legs, me. The prime minister's a mateamine, I'm a gourmet, gimme steak'n'chips, well done, with plenty of tomato ketchup. Otherwise I'll punch your fag face in.  Jeremy Fuckhead, drooling over Dr Tubby's legs'n'feet'n'heels'n'baby, Christ, there's a porno nightmare and no mistake, a star on a reasonably-priced historian.
 We don't see so much of her footwear - or her family -  and she is less SteamPunk, now that she's established and to be fair to her she is nowhere near as annoying as is Dr David Hiss, 
the man who insists that all the English Kings and Queens were gay. 
Of course they were, you know they were, 
just admit it, all you viewers,
 you're all gay, everybody's gay, 
You want to admit it. You know you do.
  Take me, look, I'm just a grammar school boy but look what I've achieved by being gay, 

I'm rich 
and I'm the prettiest historian on the telly. 

She falls way short, though, Dr Tubby, in her programmes,  of standards set by earlier, less showy presenters,.

We were also talkmg, recently, about that Clark chap, and the Civilisation series.  I didn't see that but I gather that his presentation was much less intrusive that that of Dr Tubby Ramirez and her gang of  tits-out, cock-waving celebrity historians. 

It is a shame that these shows all must be presenter-led, that they all have a version of Bruce Forsyth, gibbering all over them, shoving their vanity in our faces; so trashy, so unscholarly. The broadcasters, of course, would say that this is what we want, showbiz, that we cannot sustain an interest for an hour, unless some plump little doxy is flirting with us.

 Look, here's me, with  a really, really old book.

 And here's me, on the telly, with some other really, really old things. It's just so fascinating. That really, really long ago, people made these things. Because, you know, there wasn't any Tesco, where they could go and buy things.
And do you know what, if he was alive today, which, obviously he couldn't be, that old monk, the Veritable Bede, is it Veritable? Venomous, the Venomous Bede? Verifiable? The Verifiable Bede? Anyway, if he was alive, the Virtual Bede, see, I knew it all along, on the tip of my tongue , it was, the Virtual Bede, course it was; if the Virtual Bede was alive today, he'd be on the telly. I'd probly have him on one of my shows, achelly.

Jeremy Isaacs' The World At War is on again,
it is always on, somewhere, and rightly so, it is brilliantly good television history, expertly written, scored by Carl Davies, narrated, almost neutrally,  by Laurence Olivier, every one of twenty-six episodes freeze-framing at the end on some dire image of War's horror -  a stricken face, a shattered city, a captured column; rage, agony and humiliation - and not a presenter in sight, ever. How dare there be?

Discussing education, yesterday, there seemed to be a consensus that many teachers were simply not up to the job but if you were a pupil, studying history, who would you prefer, your teacher, droning-on, or Neil Oliver 
being helicoptered from one dramatic ruin  to another? How can a history graduate with a PGCE compete with the falsity and excitement of the wonderful world of history, created by television and presented by gobby hacks?


Anyway, tellyhistory is not all trash and I remembered this, below, from years ago. It might make a rainy afternoon read and if either of the shows are portalised, platformised or by any other means available to watch, well, there are worse things to do, If you like that sort of thing. The comments are good, too.

Friday, 29 May 2009


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There was a lovely juxtaposition on BBC Four last night; it should, so very English was it, have been broadcast on St George's Day, on every Saint George's Day for in a two-programme combination of the British Museum, on the Sutton Hoo helmet and the historian Michael Wood, on the Anglo-Saxon poem, Beowulf, the evening, almost inadvertently, nonchalantly celebrated the art and the craft of England, neither of them native here to the manor  born but now weathered-in, intrinsically English, celebrated wherever she is spoken, read or acted-out; there was no Elgar, no Henry the Eighth and praise God, neither the ghastly Simon Schama nor the obnoxious David Starkey, queened and preened throughout, their every line arch and rehearsed, comic book history. Michael Wood is of much greater refinement.

Most of them annihilate culture, the telly twitterati, the grammar school totalitarianistes nouveau, reducing it to just an ingredient in the endless sausagemeat of broadcasting – cogito ergo disseminare, I think, therefore I must be on the telly, arseholes,  all of human history and culture merely a vehicle for their smug, emphatic, talking heads.

The tale from the Museum recounted the disovery of the helmet, now gloriously reconstructed, taken from an East Anglian burial mound, part of an enormous treasure trove and donated, quite properly and in an understated, English fashion, to the nation by it's finder, Mrs Pretty. It revealed how, until the find, Anglo-Saxon man was assumed a mead-swigging brutish dullard scratching around in the pigshit and how the dicovery of such exquisite craft stood that assumption on its head. It was told with effortless scolarship by employees of the Museum and by film and stills from the 'thirties, when the treasure-laden burial ship of, it is presumed, King Raedwald, was discovered in its burial mound. The excavation took place against the commencement of the Nazi War and all, fabulously wrought gold and silver and gems, was, like much of our treasure, consigned to an Underground station for future restoration, once Mr Hitler had been sent packing by our trusty warriors.

Judged against scholars, restorers, custodians of Antiquity, Wark, the snarling harridan and Mark Potato on the BBC are irrelevant mouthy show-offs, trashy; Schama and Starkey crush enthusiasm and curiosity beneath a cavalcade of wordy, name-dropping, punning and put-downs; contrived, over-written, moribund, an hour watching either of these jumped-up irritants produces TV’s desired effect of making the viewer feel lesser, patronised, nobody-ised. The grinning, hairy, Jock hobgoblin, Neil Oliver, whining his way around the Coast or through mediaeval Scotland, like a Kosher Billy Connolly, makes one yearn for an Open University Closed.

Wood, though, blessed with boyish good looks, easy charm, a wondering enthusiasm and an unfaltering, seemingly spontaneous delivery had me up and running, or Googling anyway, reading poetry, planning a trip to Jarrow Monastery to walk in the steps of the Venerable Bede; to Malmesbury, where, Wood surmised, the pagan Anglo-Saxon oral tradition was enscribed and preserved - but, paradoxically, by latin, Christian clerks.

In a few magic moments filmed with a man expert in ancient swordsmithing, Wood teased out the craft, almost alchemy, the ritual, the myth behind the Warrior’s magical, dragon-slaying sword, created originally by extracting ore from meteorites sent by the Gods, the fabulously sophisticated artisan twisting and beating and twisting together again rods of red-hot iron to produce the killing strength required, the enchanted ripples of it's melding unique to each blade.

Wood’s programme was interspersed with a telling of the epic Beowulf in a repilicated Saxon Hall. Performed by Julian Glover to an audience of period-dressed, wassailing Saxonophiles this demonstration harked back to an information technology predating even writing. In the beginning was the word. 

In a few simple phrases Wood linked the whole of English literature, story-telling, from Chaucer to High Noon to the oral tradition of the Danes, the Angles, the Saxons; our every literary nuance, the astonishing global impact of English deeply rooted in the myths, not of John Bull but of the Germanic immigrant tribes; it was deftly, lovingly done, it’s purpose to educate, inform and enthral.

Glover's raucous and dramatic performance to an enthusiastic, participating crowd was intercut also by an elegant, spare photography, landscapes almost Oriental in their singularity conjured, somehow, the rush of Time itself in a single, static frame; quietly, seditiously demonstrated the endurance of Earth, Water, Fire and Air, against which we are all, Warrior or empty, discredited politicians, Jock Tribesman, Eton Bully or fearful National Fronter, but performing fleas.

The poem itself, compassionate in its way to both hero and monster, is taught to English undergrads after the Epic of Gilgamesh and before Gawain and the Green Knight and many an Ishmaelite pays it scant, barely requisite attention, yet in Wood's homage it seems pivotal to the Pagan-Christian duality which forged our national culture during what we call the Dark Ages but which, for an hour, Michael Wood made Bright.

See both programmes, if you can, on one of the BBC's many portals to distraction.

There, mr verge, as you were saying, no man is an island, no monster either. 


Dick the Prick said...
It certainly was pretty special. As was the poem thingmyjig before on Dover Beach. Man in his place surrounded by sea - surrounded by that which can't be seen and shit.

Kinda bloody remarkable we've made it to 2009 I guess - anything else is a Brucie Bonus maybe.
aea said...
That was a delight to read.
call me ishmael said...
Dear Mr aea

Thank you but the programmes were the true delight, as mr DTP says, special, do, if you haven't, try to see them.
Verge said...
Dear Mr Ish, thanks for that, well said, and I shall look out for repeats.

The thing I liked most about Gawain and GK was the cheerful lowbrow gag at the heart of Gawain's pact with the mystery host - I won't rehearse it here in case there's someone reading this who plans to look into Simon Armitage's new version. It's heartening to realise a writer (& his audience) 600 odd years ago were tickled by the same stuff that chuckles us now. And of course it's hard not to laugh at the Gawain poet's setting his knight's tribulations in the Wirral.
black hole sunset said...
Missed the Sutton Hoo program but had Beowulf set to record since last week when the trailers were running.

Interesting, amongst other gems, that the Ruthwell Cross "... was broken up by zealous Presbyterians ...".

Horrible narrow-minded philistines.

Something in the water perhaps, or just a blighted lineage?
call me ishmael said...
Dear mr black hole sunset

My young friend stanislav has been warning for some years now that we descend into New Presbyteria, the country run by sanctimonious wife-beating, cross-dressing, child molesting sonsofuckingbitches, all of them, like Torture Secretary Straw, sadistic fucking bastards mouthing Christian Socialist platitides to the masses, spending their evenings in dark places doing dark things of a non-consensual nature.

It is a measure of Brown's lack of sophistication that in a largely secular country he trumpets the fact that his old man - and what a piece of work he must have been - spent his weekends browbeating the poor on behalf of the rich, shaming and belittling them at every opportunity and stealing their money to do good work, like sending his Mong son to a special school, as though he wasn't enough of a fuck-up,an emotional discard, a stuttering, snot-eating fucking lunatic, as though fostering religious intolerance across the country and fomenting guilt and shame and anxiety were paternal activities of which Gordon could be particularly proud, at which we would doff our caps in admiration.

They are awful, Presbyterians, mean as dirt, two-faced, Godless heathen fucking bastards, the Kirk and the Lodge places not of worship but of mealymouthed misanthropy, the Highlands and Islands of the United Kingdom the spiritual home of apartheid.

We should Avenge the Rothwell Cross and if we encounter one of thes bastards on the high road punch him, in the name of God, hard in the face. It is the right thing to do.

If you get an opportunity watch the Sutton Hoo programme as well as Beowulf, they ebb and flow, in and out of one another. a canny politician would exploit this early example of beneficial immigration and easily disarm those whose trade is fear. We have no canny politicians, just thieves and slags and ponces and degenerates; enter, stage right, a man with a swastika.
The Editor said...
Mr Smith,

I balme you, always going on about Starkey & Scharma, I saw the listing for Beowolf and decided to give it a miss, now I can't finf a bloody repeat.

Bloody nihilists.

PSh Job of night editor is still open.
call me ishmael said...
Dear Mr The Editor

They need going on about. Anyway, if you weren't always glued to Hislop and Co and Andrew Jock and Diane Lard and the Whispering Grass, Portillo, you might find time for what intelligent broadcasting there is; I manage and according to some correspondents I can't even up-boot a computer.

This night editor post, does it pay the same sort of money as being features writer, leader writer and arts correspondent?

What is it, Mr Verge, about age and Time which draws one to the old scriptures, the old prayers, the old tales, Gawain and Piers Plowman and Chaucer's band ? Still, look on the bright side, at least there is not yet a conversion to Fawkes's Catholic Pizza Voodoo, I suppose deathbed is the time for that, be on the safe side. God must get a large number of unique visitors, but obviously not as many as order-order.
black hole sunset said...
It's here, Mr The Editor, the Beowulf program, but not, as yet, the one on Sutton Hoo.

Who would find threat, offence, in such beautiful artifacts, wonderful old poems or the Ruthwell Cross.

Both, and much more beside, smashed or burned beyond recovery, are a testament to human thought, ingenuity, artistry.

I hope you are wrong Mr Ishmael, about the swastikas, it would be a grave error indeed to meet one form of immoderation with a yet greater one.
woman on a raft said...
Since it's you, I will look again at Wood, but he owes me for that other book of his, the one where the cover distinctly implied he would find the historical King Arthur and yet he carried on for about 11 chapters saying "I dunno" and "could it be, nah".

His "In Search of Shakespeare" offering is in a similar vein. A mother-in-law who has hitherto not demonstrated any great animosity or grudge towards me bought it as a present, then watched me go bonkers while snowed in at Christmas as he squeezed 400 pages out of "Who Knows". Bryson knocked off the same material in about two chapters, and in bigger print. Although I suppose the printer might have had a hand in that. That was the same year I got the Paul Burrell book "Diana was always wearing my dresses". This is how Santa gets even with bad people.

If DtP also says it's a good show that's two positive votes, but I warn you, I'm sending a bill if the windows blow out again.
Verge said...
Dear Mr Ish, what is it about the old scriptures? Proud to be an old fart on this score but where poetry is concerned it's the sheer bloody craft of the old stuff that does it for me - John Donne versified the way Art Pepper played the sax, that is, all over the fucking place at times but always, always swinging. For some reason this rule iverts completely for me with prose (good Bible bits - for aesthetic reasons only you understand - excepted.) The older (stylistically, anyway) it is the sleepier I get. And I'm afraid your shipmate Herman does it for me worst of all - I keep a copy of Billy Budd by the bed as a nailed-on, last-resort soporific. This is probably as much a result of having had to "do" Middlemarch as a student as of my generally lazy, low-to-middle brow mindset, but I also think BS Johnson was onto something when he suggested a fundamental shift took place in the way we process/tolerate narrative when people started growing up with TV & film.

There's a memorial stone in the floor of Abbey Dore (worth a visit if anyone is on the road to Hay from direction of Hereford) commemorating three boys all dead within a month in 1813.
"Sad was the stroke, as such parental Grief,
Can find on Earth no adequate Relief,
Twas Heavn’s Decree, to which we must submit,
And take the bitter Draught, when God thinks fit."

Beats the hell out of "Your beloved Ethel/ Cries buckets @ yr death-knell."


SG said...

Thanks for the re-post of the Michael Wood - Beowulf review Mr I. I recall seeing at least one of the programmes at the time and he did an excellent job just as you say. Doubtless they will come round again and I shall keep an eye out for them. It is good to have an interesting, even entertaining presenter where this aids exposition ofthe subject matter. However, as you rightly observe, it is a problem when the subject matter becomes incidental to the 'look at me' showboating of these would be celebrities. To my mind this trend not only obsures the material itself but also defaces and devalues it. One hopes that this sort of approach does not extend into the lecture theatre as well...

mongoose said...

The Clark Civilisation is mostly a man speaking to camera in front of a painting, a sculpture, or a building. Add in the odd actor strolling across the foreground declaiming Shakespeare while our presenter lingers absurdly in the background and you have just about all of it. I do not think that the excellence of it is because the guy in question knows his stuff - although he very obviously does, or did - but because he knew his stuff in the context of his opinion, which he knew to be potentially fallible and presented as such. "I think this. You might not." The editorial was on the editorial page and not presented as fact. There was less certainty and disruptive cleverness. He was trying to express something he thought was important rather than impress us with how clever or knowledgable he was, or how devatstingly original was his insight.

Interesting at this distance how he almost equated civilisation with art and only the meagrest of nods to science or society. What can be more civilised than spending your life discovering antibiotics? It was a life lived in a gilded cage of affluence and gentlemanly enquiry, and while that shows in what is now a pompous old git of fifty years ago, it is still great telly. It's all on youtube.

Bungalow Bill said...

Beautiful all round from your piece, the subject matter, and Mr Verge's one sentence distillation of John Donne's genius - and the sustaining idea of art as craft and craft as art.

The World at War remains magnificent. The opening music and images are still chilling and Olivier's narration pitch perfect.

SG said...

Echo Mr BB re: The World at War. Magnificent. I have it on DVD and seek refuge in it often. The one shining light, in my old Comprehensive School, back in the Seventies, was my history teacher, Mr Mills. He taught a post 1919 history course that took us through to the then present day (going well beyond the requirements of the curriculum - WW2, Korea, Cold War, 'Nam etc.). He'd recorded World at War some fucking how or other on some old tape system and integrated into his lessons. I got an M.Sc. in International Relations from a very good university from the foundation he built.

Mike said...

Seconded Mr BB. Unfortunately we can't get the iBBC stuff down under, so may have to search out at the BBC shop. I too used to like Michael Wood; I wonder why he disappeared?

Anonymous said...

There's an American TV documentary maker called Ken Burns; I've only seen a fraction of his vast output but "The West" was terrific - the only talking heads were interviewees who knew what they were on about and the rest of it was fascinating, clear narration over landscape footage and still photographs. Youtube will probably provide...

The previous Clarkson stuff reminded me of my favourite Shakespearean insult: "idol of idiot-worshippers."

Thanks, Mr BB. Funnily enough I was marveling at "Death be not proud" again today. He hides things in plain view. Four stressed beats at start and finish - reader, it tolls for thee. (And I realised I've probably always heard the last lines anachronistically, having assumed "eternally" & "die" were half-rhymes; but he didn't write in RP and it may be correct to recast the couplet in the mind's ear as "one short sleep past, we wake eternal - aye, and death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.")


call me ishmael said...

He did a great show, Wood, about the life of a pre-feminist Mediaeval daughter and then widow who challenged the property laws all the way to the Abbott's Court and won, all the records still existed, as did the sites of her properties, it was pure, documented history blended with a soupcon of informed, speculative re-enactment, magical. I'd sit quietly in Wood's classroom. I think he is still around; he and Dan Cruikshank setting the bar for the rest.

I really enjoyed an insomniacal watching of Ozzie Grand Designs, mr mike. More of which later.

call me ishmael said...

I think I'd sit quietly in your classroom, too, mr verge.

call me ishmael said...

I think I have previously mentioned that one of the finest pieces of unconscious performance art I have ever seen was a balletic brickie, dismantling a Victorian wall and rebuilding it a foot further back, Nijinsky with a light-speed trowel. Art as craft, craft as art, I dunno. It is all moot, one definition of genius being a mental patient with an audience........

The hand and eye stuff, the hewing and joining and polishing, the spinning and carding and weaving, all can do that. You natives, Angles and Saxons and Brits, you even named yourselves what you did, Smiths and Tanners and Fletchers, Tilers and Potters and Brewers, either that or you called yourselves sons of your fathers, Robin, William or John. The hand and eye, the craft, the trade, the knack, trashed, now, most adroit only in the use of their InfoThumbs, bless.

Mike said...

I have a friend down here who lays blocks (big concrete bricks); he has forearms thicker than my legs and a chest like a bison. He showed me how its done once - pick up block with left hand, pick up some mortar with trowel in right hand, butter the block, then place. Repeat a thousand times a day.

Sounds easy, but I could barely lift the block, never mind get the mortar to stay on the trowel.

Mind you, he was no good with differential equations. Each to his own.

call me ishmael said...

It is an equation in itself, the requisite ratio of brickies to mathematicians, plumbers to poets, teachers to truckers and their relative values.

Even though they are personally, objectively responsible for the lives of hundreds, thousands on a daily basis we pay 'bus and train drivers a begrudged pittance yet we pay crooked chief constables, incompetent hospital managers and thieving bankers in fucking fortunes. I wonder how it is that we always manage to reconcile those figures.

Mike said...

Thats a tough question, Mr I, and one we will not be able to answer until we rediscover our testicles.

BTW, my friend asked me a tough question when I first visited his house in Queensland; "do you like these bricks?" - I hesitated. He then told me he had bought an old wharehouse in Sydney, demolished it brick by brick, then transported the bricks up north and built his house. He liked the bricks. There was even 1 brick with the makers insignia - they took their bricks seriously in those days.

BTW, although he was a massive gent (he has a presence that would scare a gang of Hells Angels into silence, and a bald head with a zipper scare on top from when he overturned his bobcat) he was actually the most gentle of people. He was a committed Jehova's witness and once, movingly, recognising the heathen in me, gave me a book of scriptures. Its on my bookshelf, but I regret to say I haven't taken the celophane off yet.

Bungalow Bill said...

As Mr Verge shows us above, so much of it is about things being put together properly, the right judgment of the eye and the ear and the delight we can all take from that (even when we're not fully aware, or aware at all, of how it has been done).

call me ishmael said...

Do you know the brick scene in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance? The narrator is teaching, not in New York or San Francisco or LA but in a college in Montana; he assigns his class an essay, to be written about the town, I think it is Bozeman. Next week everyone hands-in their essays exceptbfor one girl, who says she cannot find a single word to write. OK, take another week and just focus on Main Street. A week later she is still blocked. OK, try just concentrating on this building. Same thing happens. Eventually, he says, just write about a brick, a single brick. The floodgates open and she writes page after page after page. Always works for me, now.

Anonymous said...

Just off to get my fitting for a fresh dunce's cap: it appears I have it all wrong about the way Donne's sonnet scans...

(Though even if a reading is "wrong", you still think what you think, and I like the tolling bell idea too much to let it go completely.)


Mark said...

I don't which I find more annoying, the Schama type grammar school teacher delivery or the breathless enthusiasm of the likes of The Sky at Night's Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Dr Tubby.
I really don't like being talked to as if I were still in infant school.

call me ishmael said...

Oh, fuck, Maggie, I had forgotten about her, speaks in fucking triads, like a politician.

Mark said...

The Sky at Night should have been allowed to die gracefully like the estimable Mr Moore.

call me ishmael said...

The meaning of meaning, mr verge, is a ludicrious topic.

I was reading that when the manuscript is sold at auction, shortly, Don McLean will reveal the meaning of American Pie. He can fuck off. It means what it means.

"I met a girl who sang the Blues, and asked her for some happy news, but she just smiled and turned away..."

The Girl Who Sang The Blues is a now disregarded Everly Brothers song so those lines have a certain meaning to me, an Everlyite; another, who didn't know that, would read them differently; neither would be correct for there is no correct.

Now, McLean, may claim authorship of these rearranged titles, headlines and musical cliches but he has no authority over how I process and understand them and what they mean to me.

As you say, we think what we think.

call me ishmael said...

You may remember that I was quite enthusiastic about the changes, post-Moore; they left that dreary old study and abandoned the pretence that Moore was at the helm and brought The Sky At Night into the daylight; freer discussion, new locations and, I then thought, sharper presenters. But I have now lost interest and that is due, in part, to Maggie and her nonsensical, infant-teacherly style, as well as to her inability to frame a sentence. Mr Jeremy Fuckhead, of course, would have her in a big white apron, pushing the tea-trolley around. I would just prefer her to listen to herself, and improve.

There should be an astronomy programme and there's no reason TSAN should be dumped out of respect for Moore; he is sufficiently well-resoected, I think, at NASA, in Britain and by Badgerman, Brian May, especially.

I always found him a bit creepy and he was a frothing at the mouth Thatcherite loony, to boot but the show was always a calming and restorative experience.

Bungalow Bill said...

Yes, no-one owns it Mr I and Mr Verge and part of the joy of writers like Donne is that they seem to me to revel in the fact that they are toymakers and that everything after that is up to us.

I haven't read that Mr I but it's a great way of thinking. I'm very attracted by the Taoist concept of wu wei which I think most of us can intuit and have experienced in our lives. I think it's the fairly familiar idea that we do best and are most attuned when we get out of the way of ourselves - it's something I find very true but I'm hopeless at putting it into practice. I should stop trying I suppose.

call me ishmael said...

Naming the unnameable, it is a hot pursuit of so many, especially the stargazers, knowing the unknowable.

As to the tyranny of the word, I am, between these comments, reading Maugham's The Verger, re-reading it. You will know it so there is no need for me to precis.

I was prompted to re-examine literacy by our largely collective view, here, that having a hatful of degrees is, itself, a consumnation devoutly to be wished, a congratulation of both graduate and teacher. I am not saying that is not the case but I am aware that the more fervently I pursue understanding through words the more confused I become, Zen-Presbyterian-Marxism notwithstanding I seldom hear the sound of one hand clapping, just a tumult of interpretation and reintepretation, nuance and possibility.

The paradox, of course, in The Verger, is that Maugham's purposeful, exquisite writing makes the case for its own abandonment.

Bungalow Bill said...

I always think of him as a compassionate writer. ''Rain" is wonderful.

SG said...

The Gremlins are back Mr I. Your most recent posting (the Prime Minister's friend one) has disappeared. Perhaps some hidden hand is at work after all...

call me ishmael said...

What is going on?

Woman on a Raft said...

I've no idea Mr Ishmael. We are in a world where one pair of fashionistas from an Italian family background are making traditional arguments and being slapped-down by fashionistas of British origin.

And all four of them are, ahem, of advanced years, and then an even older bloke was wheeled out to Newsnight to tell them all to behave, it's only clothes.

Then Kirsty Waaark failed to make the point that actually, there is something icky about slicing up women to get their eggs out, and then gestating them in a rented uterus, precisely so as to defeat normal legal definitions of parenthood. That's not child welfare; that's farming and is no more sweet huggy and neutral than any old slaver who impregnates the stock and claims the fruit for his exclusive own.

If you don't know what's going on, Mr Ishmael, there's no hope for the rest of us to figure it out.

call me ishmael said...

I watched it, mrs woar, not starry-eyed and laughing but open-mouthed and squirming. Fuck me, what a ruinous, Satanic crew. As you say, the abhorrent made into a wholly virtuous cultural imperative. Wark is just beyond Decency's pale, isn't she, Depravity's grande dame, grooming the nation into accepting the unacceptable - another of your wise framings.