Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Temporary aberration


1) As I have mentioned briefly before I have a limited tolerance threshold for bloggers wittering about whether they should post, and introspective articles that question the inner nature of blogging.
2) I have little interest in the opinions of humanity - including my own, although they do tend to pre-occupy me. I read those of Michael Meacher for educational purposes, and those of some of my friends here (you know who you are) because they are amusing. I don’t think that anything written on blogs will have much effect on the world.
3) Except, perhaps, to spread a little laughter. Which was all I ever intended to do.
4) However, I am proposing to write something intentionally devoid of humorous content this time.
5) If you don’t like that, you can leave now, I am sure that the silliness will return next time. I will try to make each section brief.

John le Carre

I saw a really good interview with said gentleman on BBC4 this week. The longest interview with him I have ever seen. I have always liked his books, and can’t think of a modern writer whose work I look forward to quite so much. I was captivated by him. Intelligent, articulate and interesting. I have had my nephew staying these last few days, and he, having lived in America for a long time, finds everything “ossum”, which I think has something to do with bones, but I was in awe of Mr le Carre in a way which I seldom find myself, except when listening to someone who is super intelligent. If you haven’t read all of his books, I strongly advise it (you can give the first two a miss, although Smiley features in at least one of them). There were so many interesting things that he said, I could probably write a thesis, but I want to keep this short.

Evelyn Waugh

There was a three part documentary from some years back, also on BBC4, this week, about the lives and works of this gentleman. Before discussing old Evy, which won’t take long, I think that the style was more interesting than the substance in this programme. Most of his contemporaries and friends came from the upper and upper middle classes, society which he always pursued and tried to integrate into. Anachronistic specimens such as Diana Mosley, Michael Powell and Harold Acton talked at length. One hardly ever hears those accents any more (they’ve gawn). Really remarkable. Some of you were involved in our discussion about the works of Mr Waugh recently. I have to say that if he was the best novelist of his generation, as some of his pals seemed to think, then it was a fairly sparse time for literature. Such a silly old bugger. His friends seemed to think his acid wit was endearing.
I am not sure when these programs were made – I suspect around 1980. It seems impossible that these strange creatures were around so recently. A bit like find the dinosaurs only died out in 1832.

The Wire

Probably the best thing that has ever been on TV (apart from the documentary that Tom was in). Art of the highest calibre. If you haven’t seen it, buy the DVDs (if you are English you will probably need those with subtitles). I have never seen drama with so many striking characters, subtly portrayed, an amazing mixture of sensitivity, cynicism, humour and drama. One of those moments where an art form suddenly finds itself at a higher level than anything that had gone before. It is very seldom that I find myself drawn in to film or television to this extent. I know that there are some of you who care about Ken Barlow’s dripping tap, but these mothafuckas were good. I intend to watch it all again someday. Come and join me.

(that’s enough of the serious stuff. Ed.)


Kindness said...

I can't agree more with you about The Wire...

Omar! Omar's coming!

(runs from the comments section after deleting type error and correcting it.)

Donn Coppens said...

I loved David Simon's previous gritty look at 'Bodymore, Murderland', Homicide Life on The Street.

I haven't seen enough Wire yet so thanks for the coaxing. This evening I'm having a lash at The Long Firm.

I presume that you evaded an induction of somnambulism by avoiding my introspective wittering about the inner nature of Blogging.

I shone a great light into a dark corner and yet it seemed to have little effect on the world...
weird eh?

Dave said...

Tomorrow I shall write something introspective about the nature of blogging, in your honour.

Today I am looking into toilets.

KAZ said...

I usually take your advice - but not this time.
I will listen to "the opinions of humanity".
So I shall go to Fopp and buy 'The Wire' and take the other chaps out from the library.

Rol said...

I finally gave in and bought the first three series of The Wire on DVD (they were cheap), and after two episodes I'm already hooked.

If you'd written this post last week, I could have tried to convince you that your sudden turn to serious blogging had had something to do with that. It would have been a lie, but anything to spread a little love.

Vicus Scurra said...

Kindness. He is indeed coming.
Donn. Yes, I liked Homicide. If you liked that, you will wet yourself and run down the street screaming "Omar's coming" when you watch "The Wire". I always read what you write, as you well know. I would advise circumspection when indulging in any activity in a dark corner.
Dave. That is very gratifying.
Kaz. Report back with your opinions.
Rol. Excellent. It gets better, and then maintains the high standard throughout.

Richard said...

Of course, without blogging I would have gone through my whole life oblivious of the knowledge that we are so very nearly related. I am so very very grateful.

Not seen The Wire. I think I shall attempt to avoid it like I've managed to do with Star Wars and The Godfathers. Can you see how discerning I am? I do the reading stuff anyway, not having a telly. I've been meaning to ask you something recently on the Facebook but having restricted access to technology I never get round to it. Quite fortuitously you appear to have answered it. I recently got The Mission Song from the library. I haven't started it yet but it is my first Le Carre and I didn't want to drown in the Smiley stuff straight off. Is it any good?

Vicus Scurra said...

Richard. In my view there has not been anything that he has written that has been short of excellent. "The Mission Song"? Not my favourite, but I shall, should I be spared, read it again at some point. I read the books more or less chronologically, and have read all of them having become hooked. I think that doing this helped to grow with him as his style developed. I think the Smiley books established this style, which is unique and a joy to read. He had some interesting things to say about when he writes his dialogue he says it out loud, and that this allows his vision of a character to form, but at the same time is limiting because what he wants to do is to get the reader to see the character, and that can only be done through words. The Smiley character was taken over by Alec Guinness, and despite Guinness capturing something of the self-effacing and shy nature of Smiley, on screen he stole all of the scenes, which is not what Smiley in the novels would have done. I really hope you enjoy it and go on to read more. (That's enough waffle. Ed.)

Geoff said...

Subtitles are essential for The Wire.

The Wire is essential.

Wasn't it Bruce Forsyth who said "rather jaw jaw than Waugh Waugh"?

Dave said...

In a pub quiz (I know, I did let my hair down the once. Don't worry, it won't happen again) my team tied with another, so an extra quaetion was asked: name the relationship between Evelyn and Auberon Waugh.

They couldn't decide between sisters, husband and wife, and father and daughter (mind you I heard the other team suggesting mother and daughter). I had to hit someone before they would believe my father and son answer.

Honestly, you'd think Vicus had a monopoly on silly names.

Vicus Scurra said...

Bugger me. Even Geoff likes it.
Dave. You could have showed off even more by telling them that Evelyn's first wife was called Evelyn.

MJ said...


Richard said...

Jolly good.

I suspect you've been busy, what with Camilla upsetting the proles again and needing a shoulder and what have you.

tom909 said...

Vicus, I don't watch telly and I don't read books - so you could be talking crap for all I know. Still, at least it's well written crap.

Vicus Scurra said...

MJ very droll.
Richard. I may attend to that later.
Tom. How, in the name of buggery, do you know it is well written if you don't read books? Is it better than the letters page in "Big Buttocked Brazilian Babes"? More informative than the wrapper for your organic Devon acorn extract?

Betty said...

Bugger me, even Betty likes The Wire.

Vicus Scurra said...

So, Betty, what do you and Geoff argue about when it's on?

zoe said...

Oh my - have YOU watched The Wire yet vicussy-pussy? I've only seen the first 2 seasons and I loved them.

Go Omar, GO!

Do you talk about Jack in such ways? As in...Bauer? A photo would be reeeeally appreciated as well.

You would do that for me - wouldn't you?

Vicus Scurra said...

Zoe. I suspect that you are over the limit. I am not at all sure what you want a photograph of, or why.
There's a photograph of Donn up above. I can't imagine any woman wanting more.

MJ said...

Yes, Vicus, a photo.

Quell our lust.

vw: suckhgh

ian said...

Your assessment of Evelyn Waugh the man is probably spot on. But I think you are wrong to be so dismissive of Waugh the novelist.

Vicus Scurra said...

Ian. You may be right, I haven't read all of his stuff. I was strangely gratified to see that Kingsley Amis shared my assessment of "Birdseed Rescattered", (OK, he didn't actually say 'total bollocks' but I knew what he meant). Waugh was a pretentious lickspittle (is that OK, Rol?) who portrayed largely the class to which he aspired. Wodehouse wrote about it better, and was probably more accurate. I can't think of a better novelist than Waugh of his period, but that does not mean he was much good. The same is true of the composition of 'classical' music in that period - lots of third-raters, so it is not of much account to select the best of them.

realdoc said...

The Wire is the best TV I've ever seen bar none.I also love John Le Carre who should have won the Booker for The Perfect Spy.

Vicus Scurra said...

Realdoc! How nice to find concurrence. In the Mark Lawson interview, Le Carre said that he had never allowed his books to go forward for awards.

I, like the view said...

I used to like The Naive and Sentimental Lover best

perhaps I should reread it now I'm a little older than I was when I first read it

(am very cross that I didn't go to the South Bank last week and see him in the flesh)

Dave said...

I have never seen The Wire. Do we not have enough DIY programmes of our own (with the delectable Ms Beenie)?

I, like the view said...

this has gone on a long time, for a temporary aberration. . .

I do hope you are well

garfer said...

I haven't watched the Wire, nor have I watched the Sopranos.

I will be buying the boxed sets to peruse at my leisure with Rodney my chihuahua.

I'm still stuck on Finnegan's wake, which is clearly inferior scibble.

ian said...

You (and Kingsley Amis) will no doubt be chuffed to know I agree with your assessment of Brideshead - the novel is even more insufferable than its hugely overrated television adaptation.
But what about the Sword of Honour trilogy? Or Waugh's initial successes Decline and Fall, Vile Bodies, Scoop, Black Mischief, Put Out More Flags - his snobbishness did not mitigate the savagery of his satire.
He did write pretty much solely about the upper class to which he aspired - although The Loved One is a delicious account of the American funeral industry.
While I don't agree that the wonderful P G Wodehouse was a better novelist than Waugh, Waugh himself described Plum as the finest living writer of English prose.
* Realises he is twittering away while everyone else has moved on to other things. Creeps away to re-read Scoop.*