December 29th, 2004


Fat Is A Feminist Issue

I watched some TV while I was at home. That's not such rarity, but since I don't have one at home, it is indeed rare when I'll sit in a room with the television as a continuo to the conversation. Aside from the Reagan documentary, I didn't watch anything televisual (rather than cinematic) that prompted much in the way of thought. I know I shouldn't expect otherwise.

My least favourite item over the period was the constant repetition of this Crazy Frog advert on Channel 4. Either advertising was dirt cheap at this time I was watching or ringone companies really do generate sufficient income to pay for the slot. Perhaps both. Since this advert was repeated two times in any given break, surely you wouldn't feel any further need to listen to this hilarious segment after an afternoon's viewing? I guess not. Skipping several lines of logic here, I can only once more repeat D-E-V-O...

As a fan of Holmesian problem solving, I was rather disappointed by (even the title) The Case of the Silk Stocking. Not enough time spent on the core of the story (the crime, its solution) and too much spent on the peripheral. It looked passable, but whenever I see Rupert Everett, I always imagine his Doric twin, Ed 'Tenpole' Tudor, locked away in a suburban asylum. I'd rather see the latter as Sherlock to be honest. I don't imagine that Holmes ever pinned up maps of Belgravia with photographs and notes onto a corkboard à la Prime Suspect and the like. Kurt Wallander doesn't, why the hell should the genus of all modern detectives? Oh well, it's Heterodox Christmas and that will be over soon. Have a mince pie, dear...

What did stick in my throat was The Vicar of Dibley. I've never liked this show and I knew I wouldn't like these two seasonal treats anymore. For the first half of both, I was upstairs reading (London Orbital by Iain Sinclair and Great Tales of Terror from Europe and America, ed. Peter Hanning, if you wanted to know), but I can sit in a room on my own reading when I'm here in London. I voiced my discontentment at breakfast the next morning. The mild furore over Shameless ["don't be Shamless this Christmas, buy..." - visions of Jimmy Pursey launching some CD punk retrospective] and it's representation of The Last Supper. Well, I said, that's a parody of Leonardo, it's not the Mystery itself. Whereas your Dibley seems the more offensive assault on spirituality. You can see monks watching Shameless and thinking they should establish some sort of mission for the saving of souls. They'd watch the other and weep profoundly, awaiting a giant meteor shower or similar. Well, said a guest, you can't expect religion to be treated as sacrosanct. I didn't have an eyebrow arch enough to raise to that statement.

No, I don't expect Christianity to be treated as sacrosanct under law and I'm not sure I'd care to live in a society that did. I was watching some documentary with Jonathan Meades on Salisbury Cathedral not long ago and he was making the point the Church of England was now effectively a heritage industry, preserving the forms (high church, high art) as a spectacle with balancing the books in mind. Put in the gift shops, the concerts, the cafe, the guided tour, watch the opera, admire the costumes. Buildings haunted by the absence of spirit, the eyes of abandoned lovers at late night bus stops. My friend Misha, Orthodox of the most Tsarist of forms, home in the Cotswolds for the week, attended mass at Anglican church with family and stormed out as the priest started offering prayers for the soliders in Iraq. Never minding his oversight of our own liturgy, I was pleased to hear that the tradition of holy fools lives on in him. His priest should be proud. The boy done good. Slava!

With Dibley, this Meadesian process continues. The church sells itself as mild comedy. Well, it's hardly as if Derek Nimmo didn't play his part here, but was he ever actually funny on that series? I can sing to the highest rafters about Dibley contra whatever, I can do that in private. in once scene, Dawn French was given a chocolate fountain. This scene was arguably one of the most obscene I've ever witnessed on tv. For a start it was rank looking milk chocolate [I suspect it was some coloured emulsion as the camera cut whenever she took a mouthful] and thus betrayed the character's absolute lack of discernment. Then a Rowan Williams lookalike appeared. Is this a dream sequence, I asked, having only just come into the room. No. Oh. I felt a dangerous stirring of emotions that would have me storm Richard Curtis' Winter Palace and slaughter all in my path. Tear down these English portraits. Torch the lot. Did I object to Dawn French because of her size, I wondered. She does seem to have expanded in inverse proportion to her comic skills. No, it was the chocolate. If she had grown so fat with proper gusto (say, La Grande Bouffe) and taste, I wouldn't mind. But that chocolate, bloody vegelate. I pictured her at home with the cloying fruits of the British mass chocolate industry and realised that she was the real chav to be concerned about. This coterie. These people have the power. Destroy!

Well, I do hope that I'm less frustrated in 2005. It's been a lonely year in some ways. 2006 looks more promising. Finances should improve. I'll visit America, Japan, Korea, Australia, Iran, maybe Syria. Once this second album is out the way, I can devote myself entirely to this preposterous shop idea with all my passion. Even if that boat goes down will all aboard, it will make a glorious spectacle and I can then head off to the monastery with more than enough in the way of sackcloth and ashes.

Farewell, Susan Sontag!