A great new miserable documentary from Adam Curtis here. Bang up-to-date in examining Trump and Putin's strategic abandonment of reality, but it's the historical material about Assad senior and Gaddafi that I found most intriguing. The manner in which US and UK politicians continually spun an imaginary narrative of the intellectually limited narcissist Gaddafi as a global terror super-brain while evidence for the Lockerbie bombing pointed directly at Syria. If you like this then watch 'Bitter Lake' too.
A fuzzy iPad photo of Jonathan Meades giving a talk about brutalist architecture to the Regency Society in the spectacular music room of Brighton Pavilion. For months Jon (jermynsavile) and I had been as excited about this as small children going to Disneyland. There was a tense moment when Jon's tickets failed to materialise but it all turned out well in the end and we sat there in our coats at the beginning grinning at each other like idiots. Like many Meades fans, his programmes are one of the few reasons I will ever tune into broadcast TV. To those of you unfamiliar with Meades, he has created a sort of Reservoir Dogs screen persona and delivers his programmes as verbal barrages which, oddly, despite the extremely visual subject matter, are more akin to radio than television. Somewhat slower and unedited in real life he was, if anything, even more bizarre. Tiny, irritable eyes embedded in that big flaccid face it soon became evident that he was going to deliver nothing less than, verbatim, the entire script of his last two TV episodes. Spontaneous and engaging are not qualities he's bothered to cultivate and I don't suppose he needs to either. After an hour and a half of this the charming chairman of the Regency Society hesitantly placed a note on Meades's lectern which, we gathered, read something along the lines of "Brighton City Council are going to turf us out of here at 9pm." Meades froze as if in terror, but more likely rage, and then, in stony silence, turned over the last five pages of his script like sheets of lead and wound up the lecture; an episode of comic drama which Jon reckons was worth the whole £10 ticket price. There was a brief Q&A session during which I asked him if there was a better name for brutalism and he shot back "chummy, matey concrete".
Meades didn't join us for wine afterwards in the fancy kitchen with its iron columns disguised as palm trees. His loss. I found that the Regency Society is made up mostly of immensely literate, witty conversational retired people and I will make an effort to meet them again I think.
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I dimly recalled watching Play Aaway on our black and white television in the 1970s, and that it was exciting and upbeat and pitched over my head. So, I turned to YouTube to get a proper look at it again with adult eyes. Jeremy Irons?! Yes, it really is him. Also a strangely immutable Tony Robinson. I had no idea they were in it. It's all terribly public school and literate. No wonder I was impressed as a kid. Not sure how it would go down these days. The fabulous 'King Caratacus' song contains what could be interpreted as a 'gay joke'.
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You'll just have to trust me that this isn't some internet joke, but actual broadcast daytime TV in1980s Britain. They made 52 episodes of Murun Buchstansangur, all of them in this same vein of utter nihilistic hopelessness. Someone left this comment on YouTube which sums it up nicely....