Sunday, February 11, 2018

Nineteen Ninety-four

I've been listening to Nineteen Ninety-four, the dystopian Radio 4 comedy from 1985. Pitched somewhere between HHG, Brave New World and The Prisoner.

What stops it being just another laboured string of Week Ending style 'Sellingfield' gags is Robert Lindsay as the everyman hero Edward Wilson. There's a sequel, Nineteen Ninety-eight, which has David Threlfall instead, and it's not nearly as good. Both Edward Wilsons are complicit in their own exploitation but at least RL's version makes a token resistance.

It's interesting how different NNF (broadcast 1985) and NNE (broadcast 1987) are in tone. They make a fine example of the cultural atmosphere in the two halves of the Eighties. Later 80s concerns about US imperialism and early 80s concerns about riots and everything just falling apart.

Btw I do wonder if Lance Parkin was thinking of NNF when he wrote the scenes with Colin Baker and the personal organiser device in Davros.

Nigel Mole

I've found the original 'Nigel Mole' Thirty Minute Theatre from January 1982. I was never sure whether I'd imagined listening to it or not, but there it was - Adrian is called Nigel just as I remembered, and Nigel is called Adrian.

But that's not all - the opening and closing theme, which even short plays had back then, are from a sort of alternate reality, the one where Carry On films were all scripted by Norman Hudis and never discovered innuendo, where the Pert-shaped time tunnel from the season 11 credits was replaced by a Davo-shaped one when the latter finally took over from Pert in 1982, where Don't Look Back In Anger was capturing the zeitgeist after Callaghan's fourth election victory in 1994.

By which I mean to say, they start with a chorister, singing about being Nigel Mole, and fade into a 'sarcastic teacher' voice berating Nigel Mole for scribbling in his diary, constantly - 'Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday...'. Supposedly the reason Nigel and Adrian swapped roles when the book was published was that the publishers got cold feet about possible confusion with Nigel Molesworth, the goriller of 3B, and having heard that theme, I find that a lot more plausible than I ever did before. Curse of neil armstrong's which is the skool I am at.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Limit of navigation

Some things I straightened out by reading the excellent Where Thames Smooth Waters Glide site:
  • The usual limit of navigation is at Lechlade. Powered craft usually turn below Lechlade footbridge.
  • Beyond the footbridge is Inglesham. 'The first section above Inglesham is wide enough and generally deep enough for small launches'.
  • The WTSMG author (in a punt) saw a narrowboat reach Hannington Bridge
  • 'If you can pass [Castle Eaton Bridge] you can probably get to Cricklade'. The author has a fierce battle with the current at the bridge.
  • Cricklade Town Bridge is 'the limit of navigation as far as I am concerned in a punt. Most canoists would probably agree - though there may be sections above this where a canoe could be used at certain times of the year.'

I've got really interested in this now, so herewith a table of distances of places mentioned from the boundary stone at Teddington Lock:

PlaceMiles upstream
Lechlade footbridge124.75
Hannington Bridge128.25
Castle Eaton Bridge130.95
Cricklade Bridge135.18

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Gob all over my carnation

In Radio Active 5.3, 'Out Of Your Depth', one of the jobs Martin Brown attempts to do is that of an actor. Director Ronnie Crump tries to help him rehearse his one line,
Ooh it were terrible, gob all over my carnation
I find that 'Gob all over my carnation' is a line from The Erpingham Camp by Joe Orton. Scene 7 if you're interested.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

So Tom and Clive in the Orton diaries really were the same couple as 'T. and C.' in the Kenneth Williams diaries.

Although I've caught up to this rather late, I'm quite surprised; I assumed Russell 'No not him' Davies had disguised their names when he edited the diaries.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

On Tuesday afternoon I went to an appointment in Putney, on the fourth floor of a building overlooking the river. I was given some good news, that they didn't need to see me again, so when I came out at 3pm I was in a really good mood. I noticed that there was a fine view north over London from the staircase, and I spent some time looking at the various high buildings, like the Post Office Tower and the Walkie Talkie and that one that looks like a set of steps that they keep advertising in the FT. It was a beautiful afternoon with white clouds and blue distances. I nearly took a picture but decided I'd better hurry on back to the car park, which was lucky, because maps show that in my happy good news memory picture Grenfell Tower would have been prominent camera front.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

United Airlines

I see one or two people have connected recent bad publicity for United Airlines with the 1970 Hunter S. Thompson bit The Temptations of Jean-Claude Killy:
There is something in the corporate manner of United Airlines that reminds me of the California Highway Patrol, the exaggerated politeness of people who would be a hell of a lot happier if all their customers were in jail - and especially you, sir.

Flying United, to me, is like crossing the Andes in a prison bus.

(collected in The Great Shark Hunt)