Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Television

Saturday March 16 2019

The job of sports fan internetters like me is not to just wallow in the mere news that the commentators have just been reporting and to repeat their opinions about why it all happened (although that can be fun to look back on, in the years to come).  It is also to notice the daft things that commentators sometimes say.  The above gem of verbal inappropriateness came, from ITV commentator Nick Mullins, after just 13 minutes of the England Scotland rugby game at Twickenham, just after England scored their third try.  England really don’t look like they’re going to lose this one.

The basic reason England are winning is that Wales, earlier this afternoon, dessicated Ireland.  That actually is not a bad word for what Wales did to Ireland.  Ireland didn’t score any points at all until the clock had gone past 80 minutes, Wales having already scored 25.  This meant that Wales already had the Grand Slam, and that meant that Scotland would not now be working themselves into a frenzy of Scottishness to deny England, who were undone two weeks ago by a frenzy of Welshness (which did deny England the Grand Slam), the mere winning of the tournament.

And now, on the half hour, England have just scored their fourth try, making it 31-0 to them.

And what did Nick Mullins say about that?

This:

“Scotland are being drowned.”

When you get dessicated, what you want is water.  But not that much water.

I feel sorry for Scotland.  If you’re an England rugby fan, feeling sorry for Scotland is great.  Scots never feel sorry for us, which is how they torment us.  We feel sorry for them every chance we get, which is our way of tormenting them.  All I am missing now is a Scotsman for me to feel sorry for in person.  They must really hate that.

But hey, Scotland have just scored a breakaway try.

Said the moisture-obsessed Mullins, switching metaphors:

“A shaft of light.”

If you’ve been desiccated but then drowned, a shaft of light is probably what you want.  31-7 to England at half time.

I am going to miss the end of this game because I am off out to dinner.  Fine by me.  My guess is that the second half of this game will be rather an anti-climax, like the second half of the England France game.  The only thing that could make it interesting would be a couple more shafts of light for Scotland at the start of the second half.  If that happens, I would have to stop feeling sorry for Scotland, which would be terrible.

And Scotland have indeed scored, 7 minutes into the second half.  Just before they did, Mullins said:

“Scotland are beginning to throw some coals on the fire!”

Said a colleague:

“Can that be the spark?”

Scotland not drowned after all.

Well, well, well.  Two shafts of light it is.  Two Scotland tries at the beginning of the second half.  Suddenly I am starting to regret that dinner date, and to stop feeling sorry for the Scots.

And another.  31-19.  It’s a game.

Another Scotland try.  31-24.  If Scotland win this, they will be as insufferable as I was being half an hour ago.

I’m off to dinner.  Thank goodness for mobile phones.

Another Scotland try!  Under the posts.  31-31.

Mullins:

“Are you not entertained?”

I think I am.  Four shafts of light, in the second half alone.  Five, if you could the one in the first half.

England’s defence is being desiccated.

LATER (i.e. after I got back from my dinner party (very enjoyable)): England 38 Scotland 38.

Tuesday March 12 2019

Well, I sat down to do a blog posting for here after a hard day doing this and that, but, while I was doing that blog posting, I was also half telly-watching, and I chanced, on my television, upon the classic episode of Porridge in which Fletcher keeps on being disturbed and ends up pushing the padre off the balcony (into a safety net).  Fletcher gets punished with three days in solitary, and the final line is him asking the governor if he couldn’t make it a fortnight.

Instead of a regular blog posting, let this be a recommendation.

Saturday February 23 2019
Monday February 18 2019

Being logical about it, there are five Six Nations weekends each year, during which each of the Six Nations plays all the other Five Nations, and there are forty seven Six Nationsless weekends.  But Six Nationalists like me know which weekends I am talking about.  I’m talking about the one between week 2 and week 3 and the one between week 3 and week 4.  The Six Nations is happening.  But, it’s not.  The Six Nations is under way.  But it’s stuck.  I have just endured the first of these two weird ordeals.

But in between these two black holes of non-Six Nationsness, the key game of this year’s entire Six Nations, Wales v England will be happening, in Cardiff.  Both England and Wales have won their first two games, and only they can each still win a Grand Slam.  England, with their three South Sea Island hulks playing, have been unbeatable, so far. And they have many times started out unbeatably against Wales.  But then the Welsh play catch-up rugby, which is a game that they, unlike any other Six Nation these days, can actually play, and they often then win, despite England’s scrum being on top for the whole game.  So I am taking nothing for granted.  Especially when you consider that England will have only one Vunipola playing, the other one having hurt himself against France, as earlier noted here.  But England will have a Tuilagi playing, in addition to the surviving Vunipola, so I just about fancy them to win.

Meanwhile, how did I survive the recently concluded weekend?  Well, there were two good cricket matches to be following.  There was an amazing test match between South Africa and Sri Lanka, which SL won by one wicket, following an unbeaten last wicket stand of 78, and what was clearly a wonderful 153 not out by their wicketkeeper Kusal Perera.

Here’s a picture of Perera celebrating that amazing win:

image

But, note those empty seats.  I wonder how many people actually paid to be present at this game.  Rather few, if that’s anything to go by.  People are now saying, as they have been for many years, that Test Cricket is dying.  But it keeps being interesting, in a way that the other crickets now played can’t ever really match, any more than a number one pop song can quite match a Bruckner Symphony.  That’s if you like Bruckner symphonies.

The other good cricket game was one of those other crickets games, the final (finally) of the Big Bash League, contested between the Melbourne Poisonous Spiders and the Melbourne Big Hairy Bastards.  Or some such belligerently metaphorical contestants.  It was definitely Melbourne v Melbourne.  Melbourne won, but not before Melbourne had looked certain to win but then suddenly collapsed, allowing Melbourne to snatch the trophy.

The two semi-finals having happened on Thursday and Friday mornings, I was up promptly on Sunday morning to follow this game.  But it happened in the Australian afternoon instead of in the evening, and it was all done when I clicked in.  Oh well.  It was fun to read about.

Sunday February 10 2019

The weather outside is again really nice, but it’s wasted on me and my camera.  Because, it’s Spurs v Leicester on the internet, England v Windies on the internet, and England v France on the TV.  Football, cricket, rugby.  How can a man ignore all that?  Well, maybe “a man” could, but I can’t.  Spurs have beaten Leicester (and now Man City are crushing Chelsea); and the Windies have got England back on the floor in the cricket (where England have been all series).  As a test cricket fan I am glad that the Windies getting back into the swing of doing that well.  For a while now, it has seemed that their only talent was for the limited overs stuff.

And, England are crushing (crunching) France, although a few French tries at the end would not surprise me.  Two out of three is not bad

The first weekend of this year’s Six Nations was great, but the second, now nearing its end, has been rather flat.  Ireland got back on the horse against Scotland yesterday, and Italy, as they do, lost.  Now England are doing what all the commentators said they’d do to France, following their great win over Ireland last weekend.  The charm of the Six Nations is how unpredictable it can be.  On the first weekend France got beaten by Wales after being 16 ahead at half time.  Italy got no less than three late tries against Wales when they were looking down and out, which was a definite surprise.  When England got the final try to settle it against Ireland, the commentator said: Who saw this coming?  Not me.  But so far this weekend, it’s all gone with the not-especially-smart money.  France are now 36 behind, so even if they get five late tries, they’ll still lose.  It’s all looking a bit “waiting for the end” just now.  The serious business of the game was being sorted when England got their four first half tries, which meant that their bonus points, for four tries and for winning by more than seven, were both settled, along with the win.  Can England get over 50 points against France?  Maybe, but it doesn’t feel like it matters.  Yes, a commentator has just said: “The match has rather fallen asleep.” Indeed it has.  The most important moment of this match may prove to be when one of the Vunipolas walked off injured.

Anyway, it’s over now.  44-8 England.  Plus, when I was trying to find a report on England crunching France, I came across our Ladies crunching their Ladies.

The England men, meanwhile, have been transformed by their returning-from-injury South Sea Islanders, the Vunipola brothers and Manu Tuilagi.

Tuilagi is odd, in that he is pronounced Tooey Langy.  Except by Jonathan Davies of course, who says Tooey Largy.  Davies also says Viney Polar instead of Vooney Polar.  The world needs to find a way to mispronounce “Jonathan Davies”, and keep on doing that until he learns his job.

But, hello.  What’s this?  The Windies 59-4 (after being 57-0!), replying to England’s 277.  Two wickets in two balls to Moheen.  Two more wickets in two more balls to Mark Wood, who I didn’t realise was playing.  By the sound of it (i.e. from reading the Cricinfo chat), Wood should have been in the England side from the beginning.  Only four wickets on day one.  Ten wickets already on day two, and it’s not yet tea time.

It is now!  Windies 74-5.  Another to Wood.  “England are rampant.”

Wednesday December 26 2018

And here, as promised yesterday, are the other dozen of the Christmassy (Google reckons it’s double ss at the end there rather than the single s I used to name the photos) photos that I was gathering together yesterday.  They, like the previous lot, are shown in chronological order, the first one being from 2015 to now, the most recent from earlier this month:

imageimageimageimageimage
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imageimageimageimageimage
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I used half a dozen of these two dozen photos to concoct a Merry Christmas photo-posting at Samizdata, in the small hours of this morning, what with there having been nothing there yesterday, until I did that.  And then faked the timing.  Just like I often do here.

Which means that, for the last week, I have not only done something for here, every day, but have done something there, every day.  More on the thinking behind this sudden burst of Samzdating here, some time soon, maybe, I promise nothing.

Sunday December 02 2018

Tom Holland, agreeing with this lady, says that this thread is a perfect illustration of why the Cromwell Museum’s approach to Twitter …:

… is an absolute model of what museums can achieve with the medium …

What the Cromwell Museum was saying, quite a while back now, was this:

A myth about Oliver Cromwell seen in films & TV is that he dressed dourly in black. The idea that all Puritans did is a Victorian myth; there isn’t a single contemporary portrait of Cromwell in black. He’s always depicted instead in armour or fine clothes.

Interesting.  I agree that this is a very good use of Twitter.

I am still pondering whether to bother with Twitter.  Its censoriou left-wing political preferencesrepel me, and its wearisome slagging contests seem hard to avoid.  (Said he, slagging off Twitter itself.) Postings like the above make me suspect that I may persevere.  They also tell me how to use Twitter myself, if I ever do this more actively than now, even though I am not a museum.

LAT|ER: See also, this, about another “myth”, this time based on a misunderstanding of clothing evidence.

Friday November 09 2018

Friday used to be my day here for “Cats” and then I expanded it also to “Other creatures”.  I hadn’t thought of anything creaturely to blog about, and hoped that when I went out walking today, I might encounter something appropriate.  I didn’t have to wait long.  Within yards of my home, I encountered these creatures:

image

Police horses and their riders are often to be seen in the SW1 part of London, presumably just getting exercise in between riot situations.

Coincidentally, I recently had a discussion with someone on the subject of what work horses still do, following their replacement as transport by trains and cars and the like, and as warriors by such things as tanks.  Well, they still entertain us, by racing against one another, and by acting the parts of real transport horses or real war horses in historical dramas, mostly on the screen, but occasionally live.

But apart from that?  The only thing we could think of was assisting the police by participating in riot control.  I surmise that horses are called upon to do this because they combine being very scary to humans on foot, with their scary hooves with metal shoes on, with also being so very cute.  That way, rioters are dissuaded from trying to hurt such horses.  If rioters do actually hurt any horses, they incur the wrath of the general public in a way that rioters do not when they merely attack human riot police.  Horses combine being very formidable riot opponents with the fact that their presence at riots is very clearly not being their fault.  In a way, they are merely victims of such riots, victimised by the demands placed upon them.  We sympathise with them already, just because they have to attend riots.  If the rioters attack them, we sympathise even more.  Our sympathy may be excessive, but we feel it.  This places rioters in an impossible bind.  They like to think of themselves as heroes.  But heroes don’t torment horses.  Only villains do that.

Are there any other ways that horses make themselves useful to humans?  Perhaps my problem is that I am urban.  Out there in the country, in spots where vehicles still have problems, there must be such uses.  Transport in hilly or mountainous country?  Oh yes, cowboy horses, herding cows!  Silly me.  I can’t think of any more just now, but I bet if I continue to imagine the non-city parts of the world, more horse jobs will pop into my head, the way that cow-herding just did.

Fox hunting doesn’t count.  That used to be a real thing, when there were no other ways to combat foxes.  But now, fox hunting is just country folk having historical-re-enactment fun.

Sunday September 23 2018

I am watching, on my television, Eric Lu’s Leeds Piano Competition performance of the first movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 4, a performance I earlier listened to on the radio.  My impression from the radio was that this was a rather “private” performance, and somewhat more so than I think ideal.  But the exact same performance, on TV, now seems, perhaps because the public nature of the event itself is inescapable, much less private than I had supposed from the radio.  Every bit as good as I recall, but different.  More assertive, more rhetorical, more like a Shakespeare soliloquy spoken out loud, and quite loudly, to a theatre audience than the same soliloquy done as a stream-of-consciousness interior thought process, perhaps also on the radio.  Odd how the medium can have such an impact on the message.

I see from the Eric Lu website that this Beethoven concerto performance, together with two Chopin solo pieces that he played in earlier rounds, is now being made available on CD.

Now I am watching a Chinese guy play the Schumann concerto.  And the contrast in how it comes across is exactly the same as with Lu’s Beethoven performance.

Wednesday July 25 2018

I like this, in an I wouldn’t actually want one sort of a way::

image

But it isn’t a serious piece of furniture.  Nobody is actually going to buy one of these edifices.  If that’s wrong, I look forward to learning about it and telling you about it, with more photos, of this 3 decker sofa in an actual home type home, instead of in something that looks like a city office.

The idea is, I assume, to flood the internet with the set of pictures of which the above is but one, of this cross between a sofa and a sports stadium, and thereby get people to link to stories like this one, which are about some kind of joint venture between BT (which stands for British Telecom) and EE (which stands for Esomething Esomething), involving being able to shove whatever television stuff you are receiving on your mobile phone onto your television.  At no extra charge, blah blah, which always actually means at a definite extra charge.  (EE probably began life meaning Extremely Expensive.  Something to do with mobile internet connections, I think.)

For me, what this sofa-sports-stand is about is the fact that domestic television is getting steadily bigger and better, and cinemas and pubs are get steadily less attractive as places to watch … video.  This is the trend that EE/BT are tuning into, to sell whatever it is they’re selling.

The key moment in this process was when big TVs started getting cheap.

Wednesday July 11 2018

I was asleep when England got their first goal.  My urban locality erupted with honking and shouting.  I looked at my bedside clock, and it was just after 7pm, when the game was due to begin.  Sure enough, when I cranked up the telly: CRO 0-1 ENG.  (You don’t need any links.  You surely know what I’m talking about.)

I recall this phenomenon happening before, this time right at the end of a game of this kind.  It was 0-0 at the very end of extra time, and about to be a shoot-out.  Against Belgium, I think it was.  And then someone called Platt, I think it was, scored a goal for England, when I was in my toilet.  The noises that I heard from my neighbours could only mean an England goal.  So it was with Trippier’s early goal this evening.

I am and remain a preemptive pessimist about England’s chances in this tournament, because this will soften the blow when the blow does fall, as fall it surely must.  An early goal, such as England have just scored, is often a mistake, because it gets the opposition stirred up.  It makes them forget any nerves they feel and really play, because they have to really play.  The early goal-scorers on the other hand, are tempted to defend too much and let the other fellows into then game.  And then when the other fellows equalise, they are the ones with the momentum.  Sure enough, as half time nears, England are getting sloppy and Croatia now have a chance.  Well, it’s now half time, but I still back Croatia to win this.

Now, they’re saying that England had lots of chances and should be further ahead.  Indeed.  So when Croatia do equalise, England will be very depressed, and will lose.

Roy Keane, a fellow pre-emptive pessimist by the sound of it: “England got a bit sloppy.”

Oh, the torture of hope.

And the further torture of feeling like a idiot, for taking such events far, far more seriously than anyone should.

In particular, I feel the difference between someone like me, who refuses to get his hopes up, and “real” fans, who do get their hopes up.  I “contribute” nothing to the success of any team I support, as in: like to see winning but don’t get hysterical about.  Yet in truth, the hysterics contribute very little more than I do.  Just the occasional encouraging bellow.  But if England never do get eliminated from this World Cup (I shun the w word) I feel that I will not have deserved it, but that the hysterics and the bellowers will have deserved it.  If you suffer, you deserve to succeed.  If you shun suffering, you do not.  Even if the suffering accomplishes nothing.

LATER:

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A cleverly chosen name, wouldn’t you say?

For “first” at the start of this, read: early.  And only.

Monday June 18 2018

Earlier this evening I was in the City, checking out the latest Big Things, but this posting isn’t about that.

I care just enough about England doing well in the World Cup to have to try not to care, as opposed to truly not caring.  Countries like Tunisia are getting better at soccer, and countries like England are getting worse, so today’s game, Tunisia v England, was a banana skin almost guaranteed to embarrass England.  I chose early this evening for my City walkabout because the weather forecast was good, but also because if I was photoing in the City, I could forget about this sure-to-be excruciating game.

Fat chance.  For starters, I was constantly walking past pubs full of people crying out in unison and in frustration, at England’s evidently imperfect performance.  Also, I had my mobile phone with me, and it was able to tell me what the shouting was all about.  I tried not to mind when Tunisia equalised with a penalty.  I tried not even to know.  But I did, because I did.

Also, in one of those urban coicidences, I encountered two further soccer reminders, both involving Dele Alli, a Spurs player who also plays in this England side.  These two photos were taken by me within a minute of one another, the first outside Liverpool Street tube, and the second down on the tube platform:

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On the left, an Evening Standard headline, all about how ruthless England must be, against Tunisia.  Sadly, they ruthlessly missed almost all of the many goal chances they created.  Had that other Spurs player, Kane, not scored at the beginning, and then again right at the end in extra time, England would have been humiliated.

And on the right, an advertising campaign which Dele Alli was surely asking for trouble by agreeing to.  He is fronting for clothing brand boohoo MAN.  This is a photocaption waiting to happen.  When England fail to win the World Cup, and they will, quite soon, fail to win the World Cup, Dele Alli will be photoed, a lot, looking unhappy.  And the unhappiest photo of all will have the words “boohoo man” under it, in many media outlets.  This will greatly benefit boohoo, by getting its name talked about, so I suppose, come to think of it, that the prospect of such coverage has already greatly benefited Del Alli.  But I consider this very undignified, even if Dele Alli is already boohooing all the way to the bank.

Monday May 28 2018

A few hours ago, the Waterloo crane cluster was lit up by the evening sun, in front of dark clouds, an effect I love:

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That was taken from the downstream Hungerford footbridge, just outside Embankment tube.  Minutes after that it was chucking it down.  And there was more thunder.

A fine night for the BBC to be showing King Lear.

I had already set the TV recorder.

Tuesday April 24 2018

I’d never heard of it, until, yesterday, at a bus stop near near Finsbury Park tube station, I observed, and photoed, this:

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This advert didn’t impress me.  I actually laughed.  The Pauline Quirke Academy.  Give over.  You’re ‘avin’ a laugh.  I did anyway.

Later, I saw the same advert in the tube:

image

This did impress me.

I think it was that the back of a bus is a tacky advertising spot, used by tacky enterprises that you have never heard of and will never hear of again.  Ergo, the PQA must be tacky and will soon disappear.  The tube is not such a tacky spot to advertise.  Ergo, the PQA is not so tacky after all.

I wish the PQA every success.  PQA website.

Pauline Quirke is best known to me for doing this.  And to most others, if the internet is anything to go by.

Might someone else who saw both adverts have been more impressed by the bus advert than by the tube advert?

Tuesday April 17 2018

This morning I get a phone call:

Me: Hello.

Voice at the Other End: Hello.

Me: Who is this?

Voice at the Other End: Me.

That is such a perfectly idiotic answer.  And such a perfect joke, provided only that it isn’t happening to me or to you.  It should be in an American sitcom, and I am sure it has been.

The subsequent conversation included this:

Me: I am going to blog this.

My thanks to Me.