Monday, 30 April 2012

Roy Hodgson

You have to feel sorry for Roy Hodgson who got stick at Liverpool for not being Kenny Dalglish, and will get stick as England manager for not being Harry Redknapp. He's got sound credentials, but it's hard not to see the overlooking as Rednap as another example of a stuffy organisation uneasy about a colourful character who speaks his mind. Maybe worst of all, for the FA, Redknapp is funny.

Monday, 23 April 2012

True Blood

Watching the fourth series of True Blood, I've been wondering about the influence of Twin Peaks, the David Lynch soap parody from the early 90s - that was also set in a small town where weirdness was progressively revealed. But the differences between them also show what's changed culturally in the two decades since then. The True Blood premise - that vampires have gone mainstream because the availability of the eponymous blood substitute means they needn't kill humans - looks at first like a straightforward metaphor for the mainstreaming of gayness, especially given the conspicuous presence of gay characters, combined, stylistically, with a reliance on camp parody and irony. What's more interesting is the way that such a wide range of other kinds of deviance is gradually developed so that a very high percentage of the population of the Louisiana town turn out to be shape-shifters, werewolves etc etc. The protagonist, Sookie Stackhouse, who gives her name to the books which the series is based on, looks like an author proxy because her telepathic abilities are also what novelists can do - she can read the thoughts of the other characters (well, except for vampires) but this also means she's endowed with unexpected power for a young waitress, and she's wish-fulfullingly the focus of great sexual interest for the most glamorous men in the series. But the series is crucially generous in its endowment of power; that's similar, maybe, to the banal Xmen moral - give freaks a chance - but goes beyond that because the proliferation of deviant and ambiguous powers (are they a blessing or a curse?) suggests a much more widespread tolerance - way beyond a straight/gay binary, and hinting at a celebration of human variousness in all its forms. And, like all those HBO series, it's brilliantly scripted, acted and filmed. Marvellous.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


Am I the only one who thinks there's far too much Delius on Radio 3? Of course the BBC should promote British artists but I hate Englishness being connected to this wounded pastoral. Delius was Composer of the Week again last week and I avoided most of it because I've developed a phobia for the word 'amanuensis' which always features on these occasions (and never anywhere else) - Eric Fenby appears to be the only 'amanuensis' ever - truly unique. I did, however, hear Julian Lloyd Webber claiming that the Delius Cello Concerto was one of the best pieces in the cello repertoire. Then they broadcast his performance of it and it sounded like the musical expression of an oppressive headache that arouses aggrandised feelings of self-pity.

Monday, 2 April 2012

football chants

Yesterday, in the game against Liverpool, Newcastle fans chanted

'Sign on, Sign on,
With hope in your heart,
But you'll never work again.'

The non-football gratuitousness of that is what's conspicuous - one region satirising another.

Best chant ever was United fans celebrating the odd name of the father of the brothers Gary And Phil, and sung to the Bowie tune:

Neville Neville it's the name of their dad...