All entries for January 2010
January 28, 2010
- Coming of Age
Sometimes, TV can’t be taken too seriously. Yes, it’s great that Mad Men’s back for a third series, that those angsty Skins kids will be snorting and self-harming their way to university and that Paxman’s perennial sneer is forever imprinted upon the hollow soul of the BBC, but sometimes it’s nice to lose yourself in half an hour of complete banality. Yes! From the makers of ‘Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps’ comes the second series of ‘Coming of Age,’ a yoof sitcom that follows the oh-so-hilarious tribulations of five sixth form students.
However, we are being led to believe that the monster that is Recession-bot 3000 wants the BBC to take television more seriously. The Policy Exchange recently concluded that the BBC should cut the amount that it spends on popular entertainment and shows for 16 to 35 year olds and concentrate on providing a better quality output instead of chasing ratings. It also stated that money spent on reaching 16 to 35 year olds would be better placed on E4 and Channel 4 than it is on the BBC at the moment. Of course, being the cynic that I am, I tend to disagree. The BBC is a multi-faceted organization, with a platform for intellectual programming on BBC4, (‘Alice Sommer Herz at 106: Everything is a Present’ anyone?) popular entertainment on BBC1 and BBC2 and youth programming on BBC3. Heck, they even have BBC Parliament. If the Policy Exchange is concerned with wasted money, they should look no further than BBC Parliament. I don’t know why anyone would want to sit around and watch the televisual equivalent of a bunch of bleating walruses flogging themselves, as if we need any convincing that our parliament is little more than some perverse foreplay. I digress.
I spoke to Tim Dawson, the writer of ‘Coming of Age’, this week. Tim is a man who is, as one short search on Google reveals, widely applauded for achieving success as a scriptwriter at a young age. The first series of ‘Coming of Age’ was commissioned when he was just 19. Now, this makes me a little jealous. I am fast approaching the big two-zero and I have little more to show for myself than a dirty bedroom and a dubious collection of Victorian masks. Of course, I asked him the obvious question: what is the best way to break into the industry? He dutifully replied, “I had dinner last week with a very respectable writer who show ran Cheers in America and we were talking about this. He said no-one’s written a great script that hasn’t been made. So that’s all you have to do – write a great script.” Simples. So young, so wise...
More to the point, I asked whether he thought that programs such as ‘Coming of Age’ are vital to maintaining the diversity of viewers that the BBC should be striving to attract to which he responded, “I think BBC3 is an exceptionally entertaining and adventurous channel which I’m delighted Coming of Age is a part of. The future of the BBC lies with the younger generations, therefore it’s imperative that we are catered for adequately.”
Which I agree with, in part. I wholeheartedly support BBC3 for employing new, fresh talent like Tim, but I also believe that it shoots itself in the face with a lot of the programming choices that it makes. It is home to the much maligned ‘Dog Borstal’ and programs that we have to look forward to include ‘I Believe in Ghosts: Joe Swash’. This might just be my own personal taste, but the prospect of watching an hour of someone who used to be in Eastenders walk around a house is totally unappealing, not entertaining and unlikely to attract viewers.
But I’ve been wrong before. You may or may not remember my denouncement of ‘Miranda’ a few weeks back, but Tim shocked me when he revealed that, “Miranda was both a critical and ratings success and is returning for a second series on BBC Two.” The further revelation that “My Family regularly draws 6 million viewers and 22 new episodes are currently in production” was even more shocking. I had no idea that it was still on TV, let alone that it was still inordinately popular. Tim refutation that the sitcom is still popular is drawn from “simple logic: if a genre is popular it is by definition relevant.”
‘Miranda’ and ‘My Family’ are both programs which are outmoded and feel stale. I truly believe that they only exist to be derided by joyless beasts such as yours truly, novice television critic. But why shouldn’t they be on TV if people are watching them? Who am I to say that people can’t watch TV that makes them happy?
Whilst I’ll admittedly be snorting along with the Skins kids, imitating Paxman, buying a vintage 60s ad-men suit and avoiding the BBC sitcom at all costs over the coming months, I concede that programs like ‘Coming of Age’ have their place. Tim asserts that “I think there’s plenty of room for us all.”And why not? ‘Coming of Age’ is fun enough, heck, I even laughed with it. It completely lacks pretension and is reassuringly human. If you don’t want to take television too seriously, ‘Coming of Age’ is the perfect show for you.
The hair grows around my finger, constraining my blood-flow. It squeezes blue into the tip. He squeezes blue. I see him at a distance, but his breath still drizzles heat onto my shoulder. “Stop it,” I grit, “stop it.”
I am glass. I am a dirty window. His breath is condensation. It is sticky, slow, viral. After the affair. It’s always after the affair.
Of course I’m naked! Of course!
The bed is dry and cold. I leave the windows open. I want the flies to come and indulge in my shit. It’s a feast, a gargantuan feast. Eyes open, and he’s there. Next to me. Hand cupping my breast, knee forcing a jigsaw connection: I don’t need to see him. He is the other side of the world. If I run far enough, I’ll come back to him. Limp in bed. I’ll come back cupping his droop and trying not to touch his hairsweat arse.
A spider-web threads its way through the flower bed. The spider waits. Nothing. The bees will come. The bees will come. And honey flows. The bees will come.
The wall is too empty. I need photos. I need smiles and friends and proof of the love. I was promised more. My mother promised me more than a walking sack of shit seeping over my ‘well, cream will sell...’ selected carpets. I am always ready to sell my life to the highest bidder.
The cat sleeps at the end of my bed, head facing the nameless-because-it-will-probably-die-soon goldfish. Pinnocchio lies dead next to me. Just a tangled mesh of wood and wool. Oh, so I am Geppetto. His creator, version: Incest. I made that arse. I made that droop. I laugh. And I laugh.
The thread breaks, the spider waits. Nothing. The bees will come. The bees will come. And honey flows. The bees will come.
The hair around my neck tightens. The whore line. Elizabeth I called it the whore line. My finger is frozen. My hand is numb. Under the weight of my glass body, the mattress sinks. I am glass and hair. I am a wig-shop window. The wood clatters a tribal rhythm behind me. The cat stalks. The goldfish pauses to drown.
My eyes are pearls. They will not shatter. They will roll, roll onto the cream. And he will ignore them. And he will grab his tools, his mining tools, and chase coal. Snow White now. So I am Snow White. In a coffin. Waiting. The prince will come. The prince will come. There is no sin. The prince will come.
I lie, garroted. The flowers rot, the spider trapped. The thread drapes over the branches.
Fish Eye View
White two white bumps brown metal. Bubbles and castle and hide hide. I have a fin, I want to see my fin. BREATHE. BREATHE. Perhaps I could jump. I see light.
White two white bumps brown metal. White wall, white carpet, bubbles bubbles. Pebbles and pebbles and blue grey. Long hair, stop, stop, long hair. My bowl is dirty. Clean, tail. Clean. I have a fin, I want to see my fin. I see light.
Mist. Mist. Mist. Mist. Mist.
I will attack that brown, hungry. Bubbles and castle and hide hide. Long hair and white bumps. And feet, peeping. Toes curling. Pebbles. My bowl is dirty. I see light.
Material draped around glass, a curtain frame. Up, up, up, up. How did I get here? Snow storm, over there, snow storm.
Mist. Mist. Mist. Mist. Mist.
I hear. I have ears. I have a fin, I want to see my fin. Move there, left, left, right. How did I get here? An arm, in the air, curled fingers. Teeth, brown eyes that. How did I get here? Long hair, snow storm.
Stop. Stop. Stop.
Ohohohoh. OHOHOHOH. OOHOOH.
January 22, 2010
a plane ate the clouds. it’s own clouds. like a shit-cannibal.
a house reflection in the shadow. a whole pool of shadow. a leap. i almost
a man standing, bald. in the big windows. still. and bald. and blue. the room was blue.
men where there are no men. tricks of the light. jumps and hands firmly in pockets.
men, big windows. examining plants. a tableaux vivant. cactus and green.
a group of asians, always. same spot. with potatoes. huge, burlap sacks.
christmas trees. bottles. vomit. same category. same dump. never a bin man.
two micro-puddles of blood on SoHo's cobbles. men in scarves. lights, and lights.
a curly haired woman. a stone-white smile. crystal lips. and i
January 21, 2010
Hilary Mantel: 'Where do stories come from?'
DBC Pierre: 'I suppose I put off writing because I sensed I would have to be honest, which I have not been traditionally good at. And I sensed it would be a long haul. My main reference point was the TV movie; I wanted to use the style of the subject to satirise the subject. I'm not well read, which may have worked to my advantage in a curious way, but it also meant I had to sit down buck naked in my mind and give it my best shot.'
Tom Leonard: interview.
Although technically not writers, the following artists' creative methods interest me: Ed Ruscha, Chris Burden,( Otto Muehl, Hermann Nitsch, Gunther Brus)-proponents of Viennese Actionism, Kira O'Reilly ...tbc.
RE. the mutilation art of Muehl, Nitsch, Brus and Burden, I stumbled across this article by Germaine Greer: 'Artists' Self-Mutilation' which actually led me to the discovery of Burden and Brus. Additionally Schwarzkogler but he is sadly dead. However, he had this to say: "The artist does not work in order to live by his work, rather for him his work is life itself."
The clouds were bubbles. The grass was Velcro. They were stuck, heel to head, waiting to be ripped. She knew. She didn’t squeeze his hand. She knew.
He looked at the sky.
“It’s too dark, don’t you think? Too dark. Too dark. Yeah. It’s too dark. Pop the clouds with me? It’ll be so very...”
She lay, hooked to the ground. Eyes closed. Waiting for the rain, the rain.
“... (he thought that it was too quiet. He breathed, louder. He dot, dot, dotted.)...”
His fingers opened wide. His arms lay like stockings weighed down by stones. His body, sand. His head, a single, pink balloon. He was strung together with bright blue wool. A knitted, permeable spine. He will sink, in the flood.
“I like...yeah. Yeah. I like these silences. Silence is beautiful... I bet that I can hear your heartbeat...” The balloon squeaked. The balloon rattled in the wind. He couldn’t hear her heartbeat.
“Oh. Oh! There, there, there! See! Ba-dum-badumbadumdum-dum-ba-dum!”
She thought about him. She didn’t always think about him. She usually thought about tea and snow and -ing. So much -ing. Watching and wearing. Yesterday was all about the lake. She threw her film into the water. Too many photos. Too many pictures. Today was all about the park. All about lying, eyes closed.
Talk kills. He couldn’t hear her heartbeat.
Ba...dum. Ba...dum. Ba...dum.
He thought in shoots. Of air, not plants. He was dead, dead. Caught too many times by some soul-sap camera. A hundred CCTV tapes could tell a million stories. He thought of shoots. In sterile (slightly damp) rooms, not -outs in the Wild West. And she can never know. And she can never know.
More silence. For ten minutes, or more. The clouds haven’t got a watch. It is unimportant.
“So. How are things going at home?”
A question. She had to answer a question.
“..p...hh.” She spoke like she was barely speaking. Like the wind dared to brush past her lips.
“Oh. I didn’t quite catch that. I must be going deaf.”
Blind, she thought. He’s already gone blind. And mute. All she hears is squeak, squeak. Entertaining his ears would just make more squeak, sound running like sticky fingers down his rubber face. Entertain silence. The mantra: Silence. Silence. Snip spines for silence.
“Mate.” Her voice pressed to his cheek. “I want to pop the clouds. With our minds.” It scraped. It pierced (her, not him. He was still far too buoyant.) “So, if we just lie here. Could we just lie here?” Helium bled from her ear. It was worth it.
He built a castle with his chest.
“We never talk.”
“Why do we never talk?”
Squeak. Squeak. Squeak.
It was necessary.
“I know about...I know about Thursday. I won’t tell anyone. I don’t want to forgive you. I want to lie here, for a while, and pretend. Can we pretend?”
The wind came. The sand was dispersed. Her words, true words, pierced the rubber. And they lay, hooked to the Velcro grass, the eyes-closed girl with a bright blue scarf, two stockings weighed down by stone, a patch of sand-residue and a deflated balloon. The clouds popped and he was nothing. Popped. In the water, in the puddle. He was nothing.
January 14, 2010
Writing about web page http://www.itv.com/entertainment/takemeout/
I have an announcement: TV dating is, yet again, back in vogue. After years of trying to spruce up the traditional ‘attractive person meets dubious partner, love?’ format, ITV decided to return to the unpretentiously crap cringe-inducing rejection-gasm train wreck to possible rape charge fare by commissioning ‘Take Me Out’, a dating show, refreshingly, without a difference.
I am a connoisseur of Bad TV. Granted; television programs which effectively force STDs upon their contestants can never, ever be called ‘good’, but they can be entertaining. Depressingly, program makers have recently leapt to the false conclusion that everyone is solely interested in watching debauchment and the successive spread of the afore mentioned groin-rotters. ITV’s previous dating flop, ‘Celebrity Love Island,’ was little more than a desperate attempt to recreate some Celebrity Sex-Tape magic on prime-time TV. However, the ridiculous idea that a group of people on a beach will eventually gang bang (note: ‘to gang bang’ is a verb) never came into fruition, and the dwindling viewing public couldn’t care less about Calum Best’s sex life. A whole series of ‘Love’ programs have emerged in the US (Flavor of Love, Rock of Love, Real Chance of Love, I Love Money) which solely serve to service the sexual needs of irrelevant, aging celebrities. Prostitution TV may be a ratings winner, but I think that (good)Bad TV should maintain its innocence. Blind Date was great because we never heard about the exchange of bodily fluids between the contestants. It’s crude and unnecessary.
OK, so ‘Take Me Out’ is a little bit prostitutey. Paddy McGuinness is the pimp to thirty ladies who are very willing to throw themselves at any given gentleman who comes down the ‘love lift’ for the sake of a few more minutes on television and a free meal. The basic premise of the show is that a man emerges from a lift to face inevitable rejection from the vast majority of thirty women. The women have a light which they can turn off at any point in the proceedings when they are themselves turned off by the man. If all thirty lights are turned off the man is sent packing, and if there are any lights left on at the end the man gets to choose who he wants to date. Simples.
However, the prostitutey element is not the predominant force in the program which helps to make it, in my not-so humble opinion, the greatest dating show ever. The pure volume of rejection and the visible depluming of bigoted peacocks is glorious. Equally so, the inevitable choice between the semi-wholesome good girl and the pole dancer the man has to make at the end of the process invariably results in the rejection of the good girl for Little Miss. Skankzilla. Basically, ‘Take Me Out’ demonstrates that all men are twerps who are solely interested in getting a leg over. It also shows most women to be attention seekers who are themselves solely interested in self-promotion and would actually never even dream of touching their suitor. The whole program is a series of dead-ends and pitfalls, but everyone carries on smiling and judging and giggling and clutching to their dignity with every ounce of their strength. I particularly like this one fat girl. She is clearly someone who half-attractive women stand next to in order to look better by comparison. Paddy ensures her, every week, that tonight is the night that she’ll be chosen for a date and she’s always standing there smiling at the end of the show. Oh, rejection is a funny game! My light, at least, is still on.
I’m lying, milky-eyed
on someone’s hard wood floor.
My eyes are clouds, dragging
everything me in wisps
over trees, only trees,
where my plumes can hide. Float.
I see a single fly
trapped in between two panes
of glass. Its legs are stuck,
forever, twisted, stiff
dirty diamond legs.
He cannot see me now.
I run down the windows.
Every veined rain-drop chase
a shot of nostalgia
for all the fallen planes.
Their wings mourn the living.
I drip, drip to the floor.
And I am a cloud, now.
(For the moment) I float
above trees, only trees,
waiting for another
milky-eyed Disney star
to join me. To hide. Float.
I see a girl timing
the grief of a thousand
flies. She blinks. And she blinks.
And she monitors the
dying stars. Every star.
The watch-face caves her wrist.
I’m lying, open-eyed
on a lover’s hard wood floor.
My eyes are crystals. Glass.
Windows. He can see me.
They glow. The stars can glow.
Who let them? Who let them?
January 04, 2010
and asking why eating grass
and acting donkey
towels crease in the mist
a man will check if we showered
or feeling creases
with my meccano arms
if you run, quick
you can wet your towel
i got caught in the train of my mother’s dress
i spilt some wine on the hearth
i crush cereal under the kitchen rug
and i dry my hands