Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Descending Into Madness

I recall reading a while ago that almost all the great situation comedies had a single and almost unique defining characteristic. A bold claim but I sort of half-heartedly started watching out for it. The basic premise is that they portray a descent into madness. The central character, usually male, usually middle aged, is going quietly - or loudly - mad. He is usually convinced he is but a small island of sanity surrounded by an ocean of fools, incapable of seeing his brilliance. The reality is usually exactly the opposite, and therein lies the comedy.

Sounds implausible doesn't here we go with a top ten list - in no particular order - of descents into madness as portrayed in sitcom form - apologies for the mostly anglocentric nature of this list....

  • Dad's Army
  • Fawlty Towers
  • The Office
  • I'm Alan Partridge
  • Bilko
  • Frasier
  • Father Ted
  • The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • Steptoe and Son

There are more when you start thinking about it. Blackadder, Porridge, Rising Damp, Seinfeld, Phoenix Nights. Some are better than others. There is the execrable One Foot in the Grave which is pretty piss-poor if you ask me, but it definitely fits the formula.

Any more....?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mono Meme

A meme, courtesy of "the b". I think the idea is to only have one word answers. so, here we go...

1. Your cell phone? Underused

2. Your significant other? Non-existent
3. Your hair? Gone
4. Your mother? Belligerent
5. Your father? Dead*
6. Your favourite thing? Life
7. Your dream last night? Physical
8. The room you're in? Untidy
9. Your fear? Terracotta
10. What you're not? Buff
11. The last thing you did before logging on? TV
12. Where did you grow up? Yorkshire
13. Favourite drink? G & T
14. What are you wearing? Shorts
15. Your TV? Muted
16. Your pet? History
17. Your computer? Overused
18. Favourite place? Motorcycle
19. Your mood right now? Mellow
20. Missing someone? Sadly, no
21. Something you're not wearing? Socks
22. Love someone? No
23. Your favorite color? Black
24. Kids? Unlikely
25. Your life? RFI **

* This is genuinely one of the few facts I know about him. The answer is not meant in a callous manner.
** Room for improvement.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I'm in a small book group. There are five of us. We've been doing it for longer than I care to remember and certainly since before it suddenly became fashionable, and then, a year or two later, unfashionable. I got involved because I thought I should try and read some fiction. Up until the book group started I'd never really bothered with fiction as I've always believed fact is far more interesting. The truth is often so unbelievable that most writers couldn't even make it up for fear of ridicule. But I was prepared to accept I might have been missing something so I really should try.

I've always read the book on offer. We run a strict rotation policy regarding who chooses the book. We meet on a Sunday evening every six to eight weeks so it's not a burden or particularly time consuming and shouldn't interfere with whatever else one might like to read. I tend to buy the book as soon as possible after it's nominated, start reading it, and if I like it, will read it at my normal pace. If I don't like it, I'll put the book to one side, read something more interesting and then a week before the meeting I just cram the book.

I'm not going to go into detail but there have been books I've liked and books I've disliked. There have been books I've raced through, and there have been books that I can honestly say all the words in the book passed under my eyes but I failed to absorb anything from the experience.

This month though, is a first. The chosen book is War Music by Christopher Logue. It's his account of the first three volumes of Homer's Iliad. Apparently it's taken him years. I 'phoned my friend David this evening to say that although it's my turn to next host the book group I have no intention of doing so as I am unable to continue reading this book. Not only that, but I feel so strongly against it I don't even want to talk about it. I don't want to waste any more time on it, nor do I wish to enter into conversation with other people who might have liked it who will try and convince me I'm wrong. I simply don't want to hear a justification ever for its bloody existence.

This is one of those books I find utterly pointless. I guess the intention is to bring Homer's Iliad to a contemporary audience. It's unreadable. It's dreadful. Full of clunking contemporary imagery, wilfully irritating punctuation, invented words. It would be easier to learn Ancient Greek or whatever language Homer wrote in than try and drag myself through this turgid, clunking nonsense. No book has irritated me so much that I feel there is absolutely no point in me attending the meeting because I can think of absolutely nothing I can say in its favour. Absolutely nothing. I would just get angrier and angrier (and I'm not really an angry person) to the point where little flecks of foam are appearing at the side of my mouth, and I'd still know I'm only getting warmed up about why I hate this book so much. People would see a side of me that they would not believe existed, and in fact I didn't know existed either. I'm angry now and have to stop. It has upset me that I hate it so much and I consider hate to be an overused word these days which should be used as sparingly as possible.

"Cuntstruck Agamemnon", "Please do not fart. You are a powerful man." "Down the eye-hole of his own knob." Oh just fuck off up your own bloody knob you silly man.