Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Michael Jennings on Jiaozhou Bay Bridge (aka Spaghetti Junction on Sea)
Maria Adams on Amusing cats versus important people
Brian Micklethwait on Mark Littlewood photoed by me and by this other guy
6000 on Mark Littlewood photoed by me and by this other guy
Simon Gibbs on Mark Littlewood photoed by me and by this other guy
6000 on Painted people
Michael Jennings on Painted people
6000 on Painted people
Michael Jennings on The Mayor and the towers
Michael Jennings on T20 fun and games
Most recent entries
- Jiaozhou Bay Bridge (aka Spaghetti Junction on Sea)
- Photographing while on a skateboard
- National Theatre Boo
- Red arrow?
- James II dressed as a Roman
- Ten years ago today
- Mark Littlewood photoed by me and by this other guy
- Guardian online is a group blog that trolls its own readers
- VC DSO DSO DSO DSO
- Vauxhall bus station now – and when it was being constructed
- Painted people
- A slightly foreign part of London
- Spot the owl
- Anton Howes – James Lawson – Will Hamilton
- Happiness is a wallet that I didn’t lose after all
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
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Category archive: Comedy
The weather today has been particularly vile. Rain and wind in a horrid combination, far worse even than the day I took the first of these two pictures, of three of London’s Big Things. So here, to cheer me up, is a picture of the same Big Things, from a bit nearer, and in nicer weather, taken in July:
These Big Things, in this random clump, fascinate me. Architects have obsessed about the aesthetics of each individual Thing, but seem to have paid no attention at all to how they will look in a group. They are just plonked down next to each other, like a child playing with bricks.
Well, it may be a bizarre aesthetic jumble, but partly because of this, no other city on earth has anything quite like it.
What is particularly unique about London’s Big Things is that they are funny. They are tongue-in-cheek. They’re havin’ a larf.
The names – affectionate rather than grandiose – reflect this air of comedy. Gherkin. Cheesegrater. Walky-Talky. These names are chosen by the people of London, not imposed upon us by our rulers.
I enjoyed this, which is the Daily Mash take on how cats “love any quirky and winsome humour associated with people”.
The piece concludes:
Cat Denys Finch Hatton said: “Our amusement at the eccentricities of human behaviour may be a way of switching off from our primal and sadistic natures which are obsessed by sex, killing and torture.
“Or maybe we’re just bored with our empty consumerist lives.”
To be a bit more serious, my understanding of cats is that they mostly look on us as giant domestic appliances, supplying food and warmth and strokes. Seriously, machines that do these things seem equally attractive to them.
It’s dogs that are truly interested in people. But dogs are goofy.
See also the Daily Mash view of the Ashes.
And, this is actually quite profound.
When tube drivers get above themselves and start doing stand-up comedy routines over the intercom during tube journeys, I find this nearly unbearable. I think this is because, when on the tube, I go into a sort of trance, basically to cut out the din of the train, but comedy over the intercom makes that trance impossible to stay in. I find myself listening carefully, despite myself, in case the exhibitionist failed comedian says something of importance, and with that, I am obliged to listen also to the train noise. Horrible.
This (photoed yesterday by me at Embankment Tube Station), on the other hand, is not something I mind at all:
That’s right, platitudinous philosophical ruminations where there should be significant information about service interruptions. But, it didn’t bother me. In fact, I quite liked it.
Writing, as I recall writing in this piece (about how to argue), is a branch of good manners. (In that I actually said “publishing”, but the point is identical.) This is because writing is easily ignored. It puts the reader in control.
The same applies to blogging, in fact to the internet generally. It isn’t an interruption. You are in complete control of it. Except when the damn thing starts making noises (like those damned tube comedians), that you have to spend ages tracking down the noise and switching it off.
And not just any old telly. BBC1, The One Show, no less, watched by millions. I was and I am impressed. Watch Elena Procopiu in action 25m30s into it, here, while it’s still there. (For future reference, this was on Tuesday December 3rd.)
Elena was born in Romania and did a piece to camera about Romania and about Romanians in England, entirely in a Romanian accent until right at the end, when she said in her regular English voice that lots of Romanians have been here for years. Many Romanians have already seen this performance, on the www. Some, who missed the bit at the end, were surprised that someone who has been in England for so long still has such a strong Romanian accent. None said that the Romanian accent was not a proper Romanian accent, which is not that easy to get exactly right, if you no longer have such an accent.
Yes. I spent my blogging time today fretting about the finishing of this. So, no time to do much here.
But there’s an internet out there.
Here’s a very quick vid, of Kenneth Williams opining (which would be a good word for him to say) about specialisation.
Photos mature with age. The most commonplace snaps can turn into something a bit more interesting, with the passing of time.
Consider this one, one of the very first that I took with my Panasonic Lumix FZ150:
I know. It’s a shop.
But the thing is, it’s now boarded up. That photo was taken in January 2012. In January 2013, this happened:
The administrators to Jessops face a battle to rescue any of the company’s 192 shops after leading camera makers tightened the terms on which they sell products to the company following a downturn in the market.
Rob Hunt, joint administrator for PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: “Without the support of certain people, we are looking at complete closure.”
Jessops has since made a partial return to life, but so far, that Jessops, which is in Strutton Ground, near where I live, has remained shut.
In the years just before it closed it had an unbearably “helpful” shop assistant, who behaved like he’d been on some mad American training course in how to relate to customers. He wouldn’t leave you alone, and instead would engulf you in loud, totally fake bonhomie. I used to browse around in there from time to time, occasionally buying things like batteries and SD cards, and pondering my next camera. But because of this person, I stopped going there. Was I the only one, I wonder?
Talking of Strutton Ground, did you know that the Goon Show first saw the light of day in Strutton Ground? Yes, on the top floor of the pub at the far end of it from me. I saw this in a TV show about Spike Milligan.
I guess that’s probably more interesting than a Jessops closing. I’ll see if I can dig out more photos of things that have changed, that are rather better than that one, taken longer ago.
Lunchtime O’Booze is the name given by Private Eye to a certain vintage of Fleet Street era (i.e. when they really all did work in or near to Fleet Street) journo. One of these (now long retired) characters was staying with me earlier this week, kipping down on my sofa-bed to be precise. Tony now lives in France, but he was over here for a few days, to participate in a lunch, with a dozen or more of his old Fleet Street cronies.
I met up with Tony on Sunday evening, and we dined out, very well. Thanks to my twiddly screen, I was able to take photos of him like this, with the camera resting in the middle of the table, and me just looking down at it:
Tony looks rather like one of those South African type villains in The Saint, which I have been watching lately from time to time, waiting for the IPL to start on ITV4.
Next day, Tony departed for the lunch. Ring me when it’s over, I said, maybe we can do something in the evening. Nine hours later, Tony rings to say he’ll be back soon, and eleven hours later he is. I feared drunken disruption. Which I would have survived. Tony has been very hospitable to me over the years. But the evening ended very pleasantly.
To give you a further idea of what kind of lunch it was, here is a limerick, which Tony brought back from it:
An Argentine gaucho named Bruno
Said I’ll tell you something I do know
Girls are just fine
And boys are divine
But a llama is numero uno
And here is a photo, taken by someone else with Tony’s phone:
The big guy - a very big guy indeed - in the middle used to play prop forward for the Harlequins and is now a wine correspondent, the sort of bloke who has a special table in his home for drinking guests under. The ultimate oh-stay-a-bit-longer-and-have-another-one bloke. I think the guy on the right drives new cars for a living, in such places as the south of France, and then writes about them. Certainly, someone of this kind was involved.
Do not ask men like this to drink and drive. They just might do it.
Here is a joke tube map of London, send in by Michael J:
If you google “joke tube map” you get lots of stuff like this.
But, and I realise that I will probably be revealed very quickly as humiliatingly stupid, what does “XXL” mean? All the others make sense. Although “France” I only get a bit. Is that where all the French in London live these days? Anyway, I at least know what France is. It’s a country. But what is XXL? Not a clue. Is it something to do with the South Bank, or the Wheel or Waterloo Station? That’s roughly where it is. But what is it?
Earlier this evening, or last night if you think today begins at 12 midnight (and has thus already begun) rather than when you get up next day (in which case for me it has not yet begun), I went to a Comedy Improv Evening, at the Leicester Square Theatre, in a small downstairs room. It was a laugh, which is what you obviously want with comedy.
The format was clever. They had a interviewer guy, who interviewed a borderline comedy celeb, and then a gang of comedy improvisers improvised comedy, taking their cues from what the celeb said. Then another borderline celeb, then more improv. Then a final borderline celeb, and a fnal dose of improv. It added up to just over an hour.
So, for instance, comedian Nish Kumar, borderline celeb one, talked about how he got a bit bored seeing his face on a poster everywhere in Edinburgh. Yeah, I know, a not very subtle way of saying: I’m doing okay, I’ve got my face up on posters in Edinburgh. But it was okay. And the improvisers did a thing about how Stalin got bored with his face being everywhere.
Then they had one of those women who had high hopes for herself, having trained herself to do Shakespeare and such, but who now has a job selling eyebrow trimmers or something similar on a TV shopping channel. She was really funny, switching between herself, so to speak, and herself doing her shopping channel spiel. And then they improvved a bunch of act-ors selling each other eyebrow trimmers, in the style of a Shakespeare comedy. How we all laughed.
Those were just two bits I happen to remember. There was lots of other stuff, and never once did I sneak any looks at my watch.
The final borderline celeb was an actor who had been in various movies, doing scenes with famous actors, many of which were cut out of the final movie. Ah the joy of hearing about the misfortunes of others.
It worked well. The borderline celebs got to put their faces about and to be used to get an audience together, but without them having to do lots of rehearsing. And the presumably less well-known performers get a bigger audience.
My two favourite performers, among the gang of improvvers I mean, were Joseph Morpurgo, and one of the ladies, called, although I could be wrong, Idil Sukan. If Idil Sukan was actually a different lady, no matter, because they were all good.
Recommended. But, alas, there is no run for you to go to a later performance in. There was just the one show, and the one I saw was it. Besides which, if you go to another show of theirs, it would be completely different, what with everything being improvised.
At the website of these amusing people, there is, on page one, at the moment, the plug for the show I just saw, already linked to above, with pictures of the three borderline celebs. Where it says What Monkey Toast Is, they describe what they do. (They certainly do not describe what monkey toast is and why they’re named after it.) But where it says “Upcoming Gigs”, there is currently nothing. So, no more shows fixed. But I don’t believe that this will be their last.
I don’t know why they’re called Monkey Toast. I’m guessing comedy troupes are like race horses, in that they have to be called something or other, but the main thing is not to take a name that’s already taken. So, you call it Purple Bilgewater or Our Daughter’s Wedding (a real pop group of former times, that one) or The Funny Peculiars, or some other daft thing that if googled gets you nowhere, simply because you have to call it something and can’t spend all your time arguing about what. As the comedy troupes multiply in number, the names get dafter and dafter, like with the horses.
This posting might have been funnier and shorter if I had worked harder at it instead of just stream-of-consciousness-ing it the way I actually did. But that way it would probably not have been written at all.
A cat gets into a box. Eventually. Video. Here.
And no, I don’t know what language that is.
Last night we had a Transport Blog dinner, dinners every now and again being all that is now left of Transport Blog.
As I told the guys last night, if we did still have Transport Blog, then this would have gone up there, rather than here:
Forget about train privatisation. What the world needs is giant motorised shopping trolleys.
Incoming, from Nicholas I. Kierniesky, to the Samizdata team:
Says Perry de Havilland:
Talking of Jobs, Michael J recommended this, about the good one of the three. I still haven’t read it, but have been carrying the print-out with me on my travels. I will read it, Real Soon Now.
As for all the irreverences now circulating about Obama, well, like it says, it’s the economy.
If Romney wins, will he also be a one term President? Worse, far worse, if that happens, would Samizdataism, so to speak, get the blame?
Presumably these exoplanets are inhabited by gods.
Or perhaps by very rich socialite ladies. “My exoplanet is simply divine, my dears.”
I know, silly. Divine means identify. But I laughed.