Thursday 30 December 2010

Maybe they had them already?

Hope you had a good Christmas. I, probably like most of you, gave everyone in my family plastic co-axial aerial sockets, and small grub screws. Oddly enough, some of them seemed a little unimpressed, despite the clear assurances I was given by the shop where I bought them.

Completely inexplicable.

Saturday 25 December 2010

Things on which I saw people slide down Primrose Hill this Christmas week.

- Sledges
- Trays
- Binbags
- Recycling box lids.
- A shelf.
- One of those pallets in which bakers deliver loaves.
- A 'Men at Work' road-sign.

And then there was this guy:

One of nature's optimists.

(While I'm here: some things you might care to listen to / watch on Christmas day, once you're bored with mince pies and arguing.

- Cabin Pressure Christmas Special, 8:30am, Radio 4. I wrote this, and am in it. 
- Now Show Christmas Special, 12.30pm, Radio 4. I wrote some stuff for this. 
- The One Ronnie, 5.10pm, BBC One. I wrote a sketch for this. The Attenborough one.)

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Wherein beholders do discover everybody's face but their own.

John Bishop is a hugely successful comedian, far more successful than I am. However, I've never seen his act, so I have absolutely no opinion on how good he is. He may well be excellent. All I do know is that there's something about the publicity photo that's everywhere at the moment that has made me take an instinctive- and let me stress totally irrational- dislike to him. This is the photo. 

Inoffensive, cheerfully smiling, rather handsome man, right? I know. But for some reason, I just have this feeling I wouldn't like him. And today, I suddenly realised what it is. It's those stray curls of hair from the back of his head you can see poking out below his ears. That, I'm pretty sure, is the sole reason I've taken against him. Anyway, I realised this, thought about doing a blog about it, and then thought - as you are no doubt doing right now - nah, it's not really worth one. 

Two minutes later, I caught sight of a mirror. Ladies and gentlemen, this is what I look like right now. 

What shall we file this under, I wonder? 'Chronic Lack of Self-Awareness'? 'Subconscious Self-Loathing'? Well, let's be charitable, and simply go for 'Time for a Haircut'.

Thursday 16 December 2010

Min...nie, how I love ya, how I love ya, my dear ol' Minnie.

You don't hear so much these days about Mickey Mouse's stint in the Black and White Minstrel Show, do you?

...Not unless you ride the Bakerloo line on the London Underground. 

Monday 6 December 2010

The Mystery of Lincoln's Chair, continued.

M'learned readers have already proposed several explanations for Lincoln's empty chair: that it signifies his approachability; the fact that his life was cut short; his disdain for the political systems of Ancient Rome (possibly a bit of a stretch, this one) or his skill at oratory. I'm most impressed by all these theories, though I still think it looks a bit silly.

One correspondent also wonders when and why a statue of an American hero came to be erected in Parliament Square. A little poking around reveals it was unveiled in 1920, having been delayed by the First World War, and was intended to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the Treaty of Ghent in 1814, and thus peace between English speaking nations. (Tangent: Has this peace been maintained for the subsequent ninety years, I wonder? I certainly can't think of a war since between nations with English as their first language.)

Also, there was some disagreement about which of two statues to present. In the end, the less favoured one was sent to Manchester, where it still stands. Because in it Lincoln looks rather gaunt and haggard (even for him) and has his arms crossed over his abdomen, it became known as the Stomach Ache, or the Tramp With The Colic.

(In this statue, Lincoln has no chair. How the people of Manchester are expected to tell how good an orator he was, or how much he hated Rome, I have no idea.)

Sunday 5 December 2010

Or is it a double sculpture? Was Mrs Lincoln famously invisible?

I passed an interesting statue in Parliament Square this week. 

As you see, it's a statue of Abraham Lincoln, and a chair that he's not sitting in. I wonder what happened here. Perhaps the sculptor was famous for his lightning speed, and by bad luck happened to begin work on what was intended to be a seated sculpture at the very moment Abe got up to answer the door. Or perhaps the chair is also famous. Perhaps in the world of chairs and chair-fanciers, this is known as the Parliament Square statue of an eagle-back scroll-legged cabriole chair (partially obscured by bearded man). Or perhaps it's intended as a symbol of what a virile, dynamic president Lincoln was - 'This here's a chair, but you won't find Honest Abe lounging about in one o' they! No Sir! He'll be up and about, pulling at his lapel, and slightly flexing one knee! That's just the kind of man he was.' Perhaps this inspired a whole movement in presidential sculpture of which I'm unaware- Eisenhower with a bed he's not asleep in. McKinley in front of a big pile of cakes, not one of which he's scoffed. Hoover and a pretty frock he's totally not wearing. Clinton turning his back on a disappointed Monica Lewinsky. I hope so.