High-definition, fast-forwarded, on-demand… and utter trash
AS I predicted long after everyone else, the days of the nation sitting doon together to watch amusing and informative television shows are drawing to an end. A third of viewers regularly watch programmes "on demand", and 37 per cent devise their own schedules. It's now thought the official schedules will be obsolete "in ten years' time", which, as regular readers know, is when everything is going to happen. Or not, as the case may be.
Even I have Sky+, and I don't have a television. However, I know that if I wanted to watch, say, The Simpsons, I could fast-forward through the capitalist adverts.
My mate Aidan says it would be great if we could live our lives like Sky+, fast-forwarding through the dull bits. But my life is nearly all dull, and if I fast-forwarded it, I wouldn't be here today. In fact, I'd already have been here today, if you get my meaning, and my life would be over far sooner than the four score years and ten I'd originally put down for.
These days, apart from reality shows and similar swill, Doctor Who is the only programme that brings the nation together simultaneously: ironic, given that the Doctor is a Time Lord.
The other evening, I was astonished to find myself watching the television news. I hadn't seen it for months, as I find the moving about of the presenters intolerable and dislike the way they keep repeating everything.
Presenter: "Our reporter, Wilberforce O'Haddock, is at the scene. The situation looks tense, Wilberforce." Reporter: "That's right, Sir Halibut. I'm here at the scene and the situation is, as you say, tense." Presenter: "Thanks for confirming that. What more can you tell us about it?" "Well, it's tense, and there's been some activity." "What sort of activity, Wilberforce?" "Basically, activity of one sort and another. Toing and froing. This and that." "Any of the other, Wilberforce?" "No, just this and that so far, though that situation could change." "Remind the viewers where you are, Wilberforce." "I don't know."
I watched the BBC news to see John Simpson reporting undercover from Robert O'Gabe's loony republic of Zimbabweshire. He didn't have much news, but the real story was his being there.
Even then, he had to do that daft walking thing, ostensibly talking to himself as, filmed from a distance, he waddled doon a busy street. Even when it endangers life and limb, broadcasters are too dim to ditch the ludicrous practices that so irritate the nation.
I'd no idea News At Ten had been revived on ITV that same night. What joy to read the Beeb had trounced it. News At Ten is tripe, like ITV itself, which was originally set up by capitalists to rival the state-run BBC. Ever since, all it has done is showcase the superiority of the socialistic methods deployed by the Beeb (I'm presuming that, while the economy in socialist Zimbabwe is a disaster, the television is excellent).
News At Ten was still milking the Diana story, with Sir Trevor McDunderheid interviewing some doctor who'd probed her intimately with his impressive stethoscope. What rot.
In the end, you can't beat newspapers for news. True, there's a BBC news website which, thanks to the miracle of the internet, can be updated every five minutes. In reality, however, it never changes from one hour to the next, and, indeed, hardly ever in the course of an entire day.
No, newspapers are best. Only they can convey the immediacy of something that happened a day earlier. Many people like to lick the ink and find that rolling up the paper makes a handy weapon for fighting off intruders, spouses and so forth. You can also still check the TV schedules, even if just to laugh haughtily at the absurdly fixed times and pity those poor boobies who cannot fast-forward their viewing lives.
They can huff and they can puff
THIS column has never made any secret of its admiration for smokers. Too cowardly to practise the hobby ourselves, we gawp awestruck at those who cock at snook at death. How unlike joggers, who daily display their cringeing fear for all to see. However, we (I don't know why I keep saying "we" when there's only one of us) dislike gimmicks and into that category must come books packaged to look like fag packets. The first so treated is Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Tale of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, an important work of Scottish literature which later inspired the influential arthouse film,Carry On Screaming. The book-packet carries the slogan: "Try one and you'll be hooked. These tales will take your breath away." What is truly breathtaking, alas, is the misspelling of Jekyll as Jeykyll. Extraordinary. The woe for the publisher, Tank, does not end there. The health brigades are doing their nuts. And British American Tobacco, that much loved charity, is suing because another book in the series, Hemingway's white comedy The Snows of Kilimanjaro, allegedly looks like a packet of Lucky Strikes. The whole episode encapsulates the absurdity of modern life in a nutshell: cheap gimmicks, bad spelling, political incorrectness, and frivolous litigation from a company whose Lucky product allegedly gave you cancer. Still, undeterred, Tank hopes to expand into contemporary literature (Angela's Ash), cartoons (Asterix the Gauloise), and drama (Look Baccy In Anger).
I've swung round in favour of kilts – just keep that badger away
HARD on the coat-tails of the 15 quid suit, capitalism is giving us the 20 quid kilt. Gold Brothers, infamous purveyors of tat on Edinburgh's Royal Mile, have gone one worse than Lidl, which has been flogging the national dress for 25. One doesn't know whether to titter or snigger. One wonders too: should any of these emporia be encouraging citizens to stravaig hither and yon withoot troosers? I used to dislike the kilt, believing it a Victorian tutu or sarong in which Scotch natives might play the part of quaintly capering Jocks. However, I was forced to wear one to a wedding and rather enjoyed the feel of the breeze round my Cairngorms. Not that I'd gone "commando", as they say. Never one for excess, I wore a pair of suit troosers under the kilt. In addition, I chose a carrier bag rather than a sporran, as the only one of those in the shop was made out of a badger's heid and I dislike wildlife near my genitalia.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
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