Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds

A quick bit of Nick watching. It's nice to see that Nick does do some research for his Observer pieces, even if it's hard to see how the research informed the column.

No one could write a modern version of Flora Thompson's Lark Rise to Candleford, which was set in the hamlets around Fringford in North Oxfordshire at the turn of the 20th century. The working and lower-middle classes of small country towns and the labourers on the farms have all but vanished.

Over to Wikipedia for a quick explanation:

Because Thompson wrote her account some forty years after the events she describes she was able to identify the period as a pivotal point in rural history: the time when the quiet, close-knit and peaceful rural culture, governed by the seasons, began a transformation, through agricultural mechanisation, better communications and urban expansion, into the homogenised society of today.

What happened to Nick's knocking of the BBC? I assume he's talking about the adaptation. And of course, modern versions happen all the time. Tamara Drewe was serialised in the Guardian and was, of course, an updating of Far From the Madding Crowd. The film was made in part by the BBC (confirmed by the crew listing in the IMDB). Tamara Drewe was really very good, and if you haven't seen it, it'll be on the box soon enough.

But, as they say, why let facts get in the way of a story? And re decency, would that the Cromwells innocent [update whoops! guiltless] of their country's blood were also mute like the inglorious Miltons. Fat chance. (I apologise if I've lost any readers here; it's really not important.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That aside, this was the first Cohen column for a long time that didn't make me want to vomit.

3/23/2011 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed, and it has a plug for something by the excellent Mr Dorling.


3/23/2011 04:22:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I had a big reply to this but I turned off my computer by accident...

Essentially, Nick's point is sound, though it's as much a problem with the approach to property of his (now) favoured New Labour as it is with the Tories.

My one gripe is the bit about literature. He seems incapable of making reference to any literary text that isn't by Dickens, Amis, Orwell, Mortimer, McEwan, or Rushie (and he avoids the latter since he's obviously not a fan but a 'supporter').

For instance, Caryl Churchill's 'Fen', a 1980s play set in the early 80s, about English farm labourers, is currently running at the Finborough, and a mighty fine production it is too. Am assuming Nick thinks her an anti-semite or some such, but still, that's a fairly recent example of exactly what nick wanted.

Lark Rise, too, is a pretty retrospective and arguably idealized thing at best. Compared with Hardy, writing about things going on at roughly the same time period...

3/23/2011 04:55:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Lark Rise to Candleford is the 'Heartbeat' of period dramas.

I don't know how Mark Heap keeps a straight face especially when he has previously starred in 'Jam' which is I guess about as far removed from LRTC as BBC comedy/drama has ever strayed.

3/23/2011 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

The more I think about it, the more wrong-headed Nick's point seems to be.

In Wallingford, which the producers of Midsomer use as the county town of Causton, the cheapest two-bedroomed flat for a young couple with children is £140,000. They would need to be making £45,000 a year between them before they could think about buying it, when the minimum wage stands at £12,500.

So, property prices compare to Cardiff (where I live), but are a bit more expensive. What does a two-bedroom flat in London go for? Are there no working classes in London either? Property prices are insane.

Of course many of the working-classes have left the country for the cities. But that's got a lot to do with the "agricultural mechanisation" mentioned in the Wikipedia entry in the books. Here's Wikipedia on The Grapes of Wrath:

Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on the Joads, a poor family of sharecroppers driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in financial and agricultural industries. Due to their nearly hopeless situation, and in part because they were trapped in the Dust Bowl, the Joads set out for California. Along with thousands of other "Okies", they sought jobs, land, dignity and a future. When preparing to write the novel, Steinbeck wrote: "I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this [the Great Depression and its effects]."

My emphasis. I think Nick's putting the blame on the upper-middle classes moving in, but there's far more to it than that.

There are working and lower middle class people in 'Tamara Drewe' just as there were in Hardy.

And, of course, there's "The Archers."

The Conservatives have not won an election outright since 1992 because their votes pile up in Midsomer Murder country or comparable faux-rural seats: George Osborne's Tatton in the Cheshire gin and Jag belt or David Cameron's Witney, where every second house is a second home.

This would suggest that people with second homes are registered to vote in them. Surely not?

However, like everyone else, I think Nick does have a better point than usual, but I think he's missing the dreaded root causes.

Good lord, Osborne represents Tatton, the seat formerly held by Oliver Kamm's uncle Martin, and which at the 1997 general election had been the 5th safest Tory seat in the country (from memory, possibly wrong). Didn't the faux-rural seats also return the Lib Dems, Plaid, and the Scots Nats? True, they're not Labour, but neither are they straightforwardly Tory.

3/23/2011 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I am all for reasonable protection of the countryside. One reason why I am wary of the greens is that they want to ruin it with grotesque wind farms.

Er, do they really? (And why oh why does "I am a reasonable being, therefore I support X in a reasonable amount" pass as intelligent writing?)

As mentioned in a previous thread, here's Michael Ezra on Michael Walzer.

The 13 MPs in opposition [to the "government’s reaction to the Libyan crisis "] were, according to the Press Association and reported by the Guardian: Tory John Baron (Basildon & Billericay); Labour MPs Graham Allen (Nottingham North), Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley), Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North), Barry Gardiner (Brent North), Roger Godsiff (Birmingham Hall Green), John McDonnell (Hayes & Harlington), Linda Riordan (Halifax), Dennis Skinner (Bolsover), Mike Wood (Batley & Spen); Green Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion) and SDLP MPs Mark Durkan (Foyle) and Margaret Ritchie (Down South).

Somehow, I don't think it's just on wind farms that Nick disagrees with the Greens.

3/23/2011 07:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I don't know how Mark Heap keeps a straight face especially when he has previously starred in 'Jam'

Half the effort, ten times the audience, and I wouldn't be surprised if the money's better too. Not a bad thing, as long as you don't get stuck like that (I cherish the memory of Kris Marshall's Strelnikov, which looks like being the last good thing he ever does).

3/23/2011 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/24/2011 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

This isn't true. Witney's mostly well-off, and Conservative, but it's not some small and wealthy Cotswold hideaway. Not all the West Oxfordshire working class live in Carterton.

3/24/2011 07:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Sarah AB said...

I was glad he said this: "You do not need to move on through Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, where Midsomer Murders is filmed, to visibly more multi-ethnic towns, to feel the creepiness and the falsity behind its creator's boast that his production company could impose a colour bar on black and Asian actors because "it wouldn't be an English village with them" on screen."

3/24/2011 07:30:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Agreed Sarah, though Nick has elsewhere written the following:

Anyone who knows the English countryside knows that it is overwhelming white, and if True-May had introduced black characters into the drama to please metropolitan sensibilities he would have engaged in Archers’ style tokenism.

which kind of undermines it, especially since in the Spectator piece, Nick didn't mention the clearly racist ideas about what being 'truly English' might be.

One reason why I am wary of the greens is that they want to ruin it with grotesque wind farms.

Bit weird that one. And as CC says, it's clear that Nick's dislike of the Greens has nothing really to do with environmentalism.

3/24/2011 08:39:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Incidentally, I just looked at Nick's blog on the Spectator and he has a post on the admirable Veena Malik. He says the following:

Brave, beautiful and utterly magnificent.

I think the second word there is a bit suspect; surely this in effect supports Garton Ash's idea that if Hirs Ali et al weren't so photogenic, she might not get as much coverage? I mean the title Cohen gives his piece is 'more like Veena, please'...

3/24/2011 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

And another thing. And another thing. Oh noes! that was meant to be Bernard Levin, for the benefit of Mr Ezra, but it's rather more TS Eliot, or possibly Gertrude Stein.

Onward. I don't support the all-white casting of Midsomer Murders, but here's a possible reason. (BTW, isn't Lark Rise etc all white? For the same reasons: it's historical, not contemporary.)

The Conservatives have not won an election outright since 1992 because their votes pile up in Midsomer Murder country or comparable faux-rural seats

True, but even in 1997 Labour's share of the votes cast was 43.2%. If Tory votes were more spread out, I'm not sure Labour could win even FPTP elections 'outright'. I think that the Tories didn't win outright is also due to a) people not trusting them and b) some of their vote evaporating toward UKIP.

3/24/2011 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Re: Veena Malik. I think Nick found that video via Harry's Place (but doesn't give credit). Ms Malik has A wikipedia entry and her own website - the latter features photos, some of which seem to be going for the early Britney Spears look.

Her most recent successful film was http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohabbatan_Sachiyan:

It is a love story highlighting the frustration and anguish of the young generation affected by the forced decisions of their elders. The film is about a love triangle between Veena Malik, Babrik Shah and the new Adnan.

Islamic much?

As far as I can tell, neither the mullah nor the presenter went after her in 2007 (see main photo on Wikipedia entry: hair and shoulders uncovered, tits very forward). That they're doing so now seems to be because she went to INDIA!

Also from Wikipedia:

After her stay at the Big Boss, she was mentioned the media as the voice of liberal muslims, including leading dailies, Daily Times [12], Express Tribune [13], The Australian[14] and magazine Tehelka, which comparing her with liberal rector of Darul Uloom Deoband, Ghulam Mohammad Vastanvi said, "these two newly public figures might teach Muslims to stop feeling eternally outraged."

So there are more like her, just not as comely (going by uni rectors I hav known). If they do succeed in their mission, can they teach Melanie Phillips and HP readers the same lesson?

3/24/2011 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

"Clerics can look at a woman once, but if they do a second time, they should be punished. You should be punished because you should not look at me in this condition."

Yet the cleric has already said that he's seen her 'pictures' (not sure if this means her modelling or her movies, but in neither she conforms to Islamic modesty) and said that he won't be able to look at them again. Both he and the anchor are clearly nutters but I think this attack was timed so to speak after she did something unpopular (appearing on Indian tv) rather than just being raunchy (clearly popular worldwide, regardless of moral prudery).

At least we can learn from this that at least one self-appointed moralist is an utter wanker. Shame the video was edited so we missed the bit where he accused her of vile moral bankruptcy and throwing the population of Pakistan under a bus.

3/24/2011 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

By the way, the first person evicted by vote from Bigg Boss Season 4 was "Abbas Kazmi ... a professional criminal lawyer famous for being the lawyer of Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the accused in 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks". The rest seem to be C-list celebs (including a criminal, who lasted one day). Sounds like Endemol were pushing the "ooh, controversial" line a bit.

3/24/2011 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Hitchens takes a second bite at that tantalising Iraq-enabled-Tunisia-and-Egypt cherry:


Of course none of the chatterers wants to follow up suggestions that Wikileaks had a role in catalysing the Tunisian uprising.

Which reminds me, hadn't posted link here before as not especially pleased with it, but on the offchance that anyone fancies a massive dose of decidedly hostile Aaronalysis here is one:
Aaro on Assange.

If nothing else, if you just read the red bits you get the complete text of the Aaro article(from last Dec).

3/29/2011 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Especially nice: Here is what I was told in confidence by the British diplomat who helped negotiate the surrender of Qaddafi's stockpile of WMD

3/29/2011 08:56:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/09/2011 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

....because it was posted in the wrong place. Apologies.

4/09/2011 07:33:00 AM  

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