Saturday, September 30, 2017

Grass on your neighbours (geddit?)

It is reassuring to know that, in these times of change, we can always rely upon the traditional sources of information. In this fine city we have the “Leicester Mercury” a veritable Fort Knox of valuable data. As every schoolboy knows, Mercury was the messenger of the gods and also god of commerce. Capitalist twat.

Anyway, this fine organ is a constant source of useful information. Today there is some splendid stuff in an essay entitled “How to spot if you have a cannabis farm next door: Nine signs you should look out for”

I would have preferred if they had written “Nine signs for which you should look out”, but purists might say that it should be “Nine signs, out for which you should look”. It’s a funny old world isn’t it?

I won’t reprint the whole article, but these sections I found particularly useful.

“Cannabis growing equipment transported to and from the house”

I suppose that that one is a bit of a give-away. I shall quiz the postal services and delivery drivers about what they have been moving.  I am not knowledgeable about these matters so I asked my dear friends Theodore and Evadne Google about this. Rather than telephone them this late at night I used their website (are you familiar with it – it has been a closely guarded secret – we don’t want everyone being able to learn things on their own, do we, to where would that lead???). The first item that came up was an “Elite Optima Plus Side Filing Cabinet”. I will see if any of my neighbours owns such an item by discreet enquiry. Do any of your acquaintances possess expensive office equipment? If they do then they may well be a drug-crazed hippy.

“Heat, birds on the roof, and a lack of snow”

Bugger! Everyone on the estate must be a junkie. No signs of snow and quite warm (I haven’t been out wearing a cardigan for several weeks).

“9. Unsociable comings and goings.
Are there lots of unfamiliar faces turning up at the house at any time of the day and night? It could just be a popular family, but maybe it's something more sinister.”

It must be me! I had a very funny bugger from Crewe turn up the other week. Just off to hand myself in at the local nick. Anyone got Caroline Coon’s telephone number?

Monday, September 25, 2017

Those who cannot learn from history are probably watching the BBC

Having just recovered from the dreadful episode with the tedious Lucy Worsley, I dived recklessly into another attempt by those nice folk at the BBC to clarify historical events. I am sorry to say that this version was hardly an improvement on the previous disaster.

This time, via the medium of the electric television, I watched a program called “Henry VII : The Winter King”. It was presented by a chap called Thomas Penn, who, while not quite so irritating as Loopy Lucy, has probably emptied a few rooms and lecture theatres in his time.

Whoever is in charge of commissioning these historical documentaries at the Beeb, seems to be constricted by bizarre concepts of what said programs should contain.

For the most part, there is no film archive of anything more than about 100 years old. This is the fault of our ancestors who were so chronically stupid that they did not have the gumption to invent digital video cameras. (In my view, this is a much less serious oversight than the egregious criminality of not preserving “Not Only .. But Also” film archives but that is not the main thrust of this little essay.) Therefore, programs on this subject have to find something with which to fill the screen.  Further, there seems to be a severe budgetary limit (good news for those of us who pay a licence fee and would object to financing 15,000 or so actors to realistically re-enact the Battle of Bosworth Field, for example) on what can be covered. To fill this vast void we have various shots of the presenter in several incongruous locations, some of which are without explanation and few of which add anything to the substance of the story, walking about staring vaguely at things that are not shown on camera. Lucy Worsley is an expert at this, and Thomas Penn has obviously been on the same course, but has not attended the Silly Walk tutorial. We also need some melodrama, as the audience is obviously going to be too thick to appreciate a factual narrative unless it is jazzed up and dumbed down.

Here are some of the highlights from H7:tWK:

Penn is shown at Milford Haven where Henry Tudor landed in his attempt to win the Royal Premiership, season 1484-85. He is seen travelling towards the coast in a motorised dinghy. I am fairly certain that no mention was made of motorised dinghies in the treatises of G. R. Elton, but it is more than a couple of years since I did my ‘A’ levels and so it may have escaped my memory, and to be fair, I did spend long periods of those lessons pre-occupied with lustful thoughts about some of my classmates (no, not you, silly boy). He is then seen walking onto the beach (I hope water got in his wellies) and announcing that “You can imagine what this looked like”. Indeed, we have to imagine, because no clues are given – all we can see is him and his bloody dinghy on an empty shoreline. The budget does stretch, however, to a sound clip that might have resembled an army arriving in Wales during the tourist season in 1485 but could equally have been a demonstration of coffee making equipment recorded in Debenham’s in Cirencester.

The melodrama is in the form of captions which echo the words just spoken by young Tommy; probably the most nonsensical one is the shibboleth “Our history is about to change forever”. I need not, I trust, go into all 597 reasons why that statement makes no sense, do I? (Probably. Ed.)

In a scene redolent of the one I complained about the other day, we then find Tom in a field someplace that he seems to think is Bosworth Field. It may or may not be the same field that Lucy was in (who cares? But it would have been more amusing had they crossed paths. They could even have had a fight about who was there first.), most fields have characteristics in common, and many fields that were carefully minding their own business over 500 years ago may have changed considerably or be no longer extant. Like Lucy, Thomas gives no indication of where Bosworth Field is or why the armies were there. But given the clue in his reporting that Tudor had landed in Wales, we can guess that it is somewhere on mainland Great Britain. (It is actually somewhere near the village of Stoke Golding in Leicestershire and the battle probably buggered up the school summer holidays of my ancestors in 1485).

Having covered the unpleasantness perpetrated on Richard of Gloucester, he then ponces off to Westminster Abbey, where he is seen taking his shoes off. “I’m taking off my shoes” he kindly informs us. He then commences to prance about the area of the Abbey where coronations occur. “It feels amazing to stand here”. I confess to being less than amazed by the spectacle and ponder the question as to whether, were there any amazingness at all, the amazingness of the place would be enhanced by having this prize gawdelpus stuck in the middle of it. He then tells us what King Henry VII must have felt like. (Just stop it – I am referring to his majesty's emotional state, not the contours of his corporeal being.)

During a section on the battle of Stoke Field, we are shown footage of the number 35 bus to Clapham in the centre of London. I really don’t know why, Clapham is nowhere near Stoke Field, and G. R. Elton made no reference (see above for disclaimer) to John de la Pole travelling to the battle by omnibus.

Later, at Hampton Court, Penn tells us that “It was what happened behind this door that would become synonymous with Henry VII’s reign”. I have no idea to what he was alluding and would suggest that the statement had as much value as the earlier one about history changing.

I am happy to report that I spent much of the day watching the re-enactment of the Battle of Bristol, in which Moeen Ali went from 50 to 100 in 12 balls, in much the same way that I watched Tom Graveney score 70 odd against the West Indies when I should have been revising for my exams. So bollocks to history. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Tis better, sir, to be brief than tedious.

I am a patient, tolerant person as is witnessed by my gentle postings on the electric internet, but I have finally given up on, and formally denounce, any television programs featuring Lucy Worsley. Her latest foray into attempting to induce conniptions is the series "British History's Biggest Fibs".
I tried, honestly, but lasted about 20 minutes during which time the leering (hers not mine, that boy), the looking over her shoulder at stuff the viewer could not see, the preposterous gait which outdoes her speech defect and total lack of anything interesting to say caused me to make sure I am never tempted to watch her again.

The first program in this series covers the Wars of the Roses. During the section that I struggled through she gave no historical context. I probably know slightly more than the average viewer about that period in history (not enough for me to be able to teach the subject, but enough to watch the history plays of Shakespeare without having to constantly consult reference books to work out who is related to whom) but anyone watching Ms Worsley would probably be worsley (geddit?) informed after the program than before. There was no attempt to give an historical context to the Wars – the succession issue on the death of Edward III (that is king Edward the third, not Edward Iii, midfielder for Port Vale, do pay attention). Again, I did not watch the whole thing, but there was no analysis of who the houses of Lancaster and York were. Instead she launched in to the rancid chestnut of the Tudors putting a spin on history in order to validate their claim to the throne. Stock footage of Olivier glorying in his deerskin tent, ffs.

Then a scene in which she is seen rambling through foliage in the manner of a bemused dogger trying to explain that she was on the site of the battle of Bosworth. Pointing to her right she explained that until recently the site of the battle was thought to be two miles in that direction but the discovery of artefacts had proved it to be round about where she was standing. Alas, to the uninformed viewer she could have been standing anywhere. Again, I could probably find my way to the site without the aid of maps were I so disposed, but there are probably folk among the 27 or so viewers who made it thus far into the program who thought that the battle might have taken place in East Goatshag, Oklahoma or Basildon High Street. A simple display of a map may have helped.

So that those of you who are not familiar with the story of England in the 15th Century here is a brief synopsis. Edward III was a belligerent twat. He brought some stability during his reign by kicking seven shades of Shakespeare out of anyone who opposed him. He outlived his oldest son (insert your own jokes about the Black Prince) which led to disputes about who should succeed him. There followed a whole series of battles and skirmishes amongst his successors, who were also all twats, resulting in the distribution of sundry innards of the population around the country. The country has continued to be ruled by twats both royal and elected up until the publication of this learned thesis. Some of the twats were more benign than others – Clement Atlee wasn’t all that bad, for example. If you need to know more, there are lots of sources available, but avoid Ms Worsley if you want to enjoy your research.