Friday, 21 October 2011

A fairly nice meal for the eyes

Where have I been all week? Well, it's been one of those times when a number of small things separately hinder the completion of a greater plan. Wargamers, think of Francs-tireurs. Anyway, I mean to make up for it now, so here's the blog entry I was writing about a week ago.

I am not as a rule much of a Telly Addict these days. I'll pop on a film or some other recording while painting or modelling, but I won't usually watch a TV show. However, with autumn has come a flood of watchable stuff. A mildly diverting but somewhat scanty investigation of Pavelopetri, sunk off the southern coast of Greece. The problem with such ancient archaeology is that all is conjecture and (informed) hypothesis. It was probably a port. It lay on the route between Minoan and Mycenean trading centres, and the remains of lots of paraphernalia from looms lie about, so it probably produced a trade in cloth. From my point of view, I learned more about modern submarine archaeological techniques than I did about the ruined city. That said, I had not even heard of Pavlopetri until seeing the show in the listings a few days before, so I am greatly increased in knowledge compared to my past self!

Also in Greece just now is Joanna Lumley. I say now, but on visiting Epidaurus' theatre rain was much in evidence, and elsewhere the skies were overcast. It seems likely she filmed the series back before Easter or thereabouts. Her first port of call was the Acropolis, and I envied her the privilege afforded to television presenters actually to mount and walk around the Parthenon. For those who haven't visited it lately, know that we plebs, er, hoi polloi, that is, only get to walk around the perimeter of the Temple of Athena. The poor thing has a bit of a problem with heights, but was fairly stoic in overcoming it, even making light of her reasons for so doing: "Because I love you, the public!" Well, I hope she was making light. She seemed elsewhere easily transported to rapture. The Daily Telegraph's TV reviewer had warned me in advance of her "super hyperbole", but I did blink in mild admonition at a few things.

I sometimes suspect there's a bit missing in my soul where others see romance and beauty. I still see them, mind you. I mean that when I visited Rome some years ago and looked around the city's churches I was more struck by the gaudy ugliness of ubiquitous gold than by the beauty most people must see it having. I could go on, but my point is that these things didn't move me to transports of rapture, and so it came as no surprise when Lumley visited the Gates of the Underworld (at the foot of the Peloponnese a small cave in the coast) and dropped in some coins and a pearl for the dead, I thought to myself that for the price of a pearl one could do rather more good for the living. I am an old curmudgeon: I admit it.

On the lighter side of television's myriad joys, Harry Hill has returned to ITV, thus providing me with a reason to watch the channel again. It isn't showing Sharpe, Hornblower is, ah, dead in the water with Ioan Gruffudd off in Hollywood (he had an amusing cameo in Horrible Bosses lately), Miss Marple (do they call it Marple in a horribly desperate effort to be edgy or to save the planet by increments?) is absent from the screen, and I was never tempted to watch Downton Abbey before they brought in the Great War, and have resisted the temptation since. So TV Burp it is. It remains as enjoyable and engaging as ever, although I hear Hill isn't keen to continue it for too many more series, which is a bit of a shame. Still, when he stops I shall return to my primordial ignorance of Eastenders characters.

When I was a lad I used to convince myself that I didn't watch soap operas. Pure snobbery. Of course, looking back, it's evident I was doing it all the time! Dawson's Creek was a weekly fixture, and anyone who claims that Buffy the Vampire Slayer wasn't a comic soap with horror elements is in denial. There's a finite number of times the Scoobies can get annoyed with one another (because of their poor communication), after which one starts to suspect one's viewing is not so highbrow as one had though, Jeeves! Anyway, the habit stuck, so I have only the sketchiest ideas about soap operas. Meera Syal and Shane Ritchie, the pretty blonde lady from Game On! and then Craig Charles over on the other side. It's telling that they all found fame outside of these shows. oh, and Martine McCutcheon, the singer, used to be in it, I'm pretty sure.

However, it is not, however, modern TV that has been drawing my attention to itself this week, however.  As that red-headed lady who used to do Points of View and know asks people questions on the Weakest Link - Anne Robinson! - would say. Lord, she puts that word everywhere. However! My time's been spent on trying to categorise and file some of our old videos. We've a treasure trove of unseen goodies, together with a few duds, arrayed in no order. I've gone through almost eighty so far, which is about half, turning up the wheat (Whose Line Is It Anyway?), the chaff (Pilgrim's Rest - don't bother to look it up)
 and the maybes (do you want to watch a 1996 University Challenge match between Manchester and somewhere or other?). I've inherited Dad's hoarding instincts, rather than Mum's tidy ones, so I've only thrown out a few videos so far: the static-riddled, white line-addled ones, shaking all over the screen like Elvis with dementia trying to stage a come-back concert (no, I'm not suggesting he's alive).

There has even been the odd poignant moment. Dad was apparently asked to record my younger brother's First Holy Communion, so there's shaky handheld camera footage of that. Very endearing! My brother was not at all moved by this information, and received the news with a polite disinterest. Comically, it is recorded onto the end of a tape which previously features the 1990 World Cup Final, giving some idea of Dad's interests. Not mine: again, football hasn't been my idea of anything to watch for fun since as long ago as I can recall. My earliest memory of football as a child is of lunging to save a ball, and it breaking my left little finger as I failed. This might have put me against the game, but I think I played it for years after at primary school. I suspect that my secondary school's policy of rugby, cricket and hockey teams (and softball/rounders for fun) probably killed any interest stone dead. Although most of my fellows have long-standing interests. Anyway, I shall close now before this entry becomes as long as The Odyssey and indecipherable as Linear A. Au revoir, mes amis!

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