My Week In Links (December, Week 1)

  • Mandela Will Never Be Your Minstrel Punch-packing blog post about Nelson Mandela’s legacy (I started putting this post together before hearing about his death so there aren’t many related links but this is the one you should definitely read today…)
  • Blacking up for Christmas in the Netherlands Interesting piece on the debate around the Dutch Christmas tradition of ‘Sinterklass’. When I first came across it through an Anglo-Dutch housemate at undergrad I thought it was just a version of Germany’s St Nikolaus, and only became aware of the controversy more recently through another Dutch friend. Worrying to hear how racist Holland can be.
  • The Choir: Sing Will You Work (BBC2) Yes, the one where Gareth Malone forms workplace choirs. This one was at Citigroup in Canary Wharf. I watched it mainly to imagine my late friend’s ears steaming at the notion of bankers singing pop songs and ended up….a) fancying a gay bond trader b) hiding behind a cushion (don’t ask) c) learning how many zeros are in a trillion (always useful) and d) wanting to join a choir again. The choir had 20-odd people from 10-odd nationalities and all levels of the company. First they had to choose a song to represent them. Someone suggested We Built This City by Starship….A song recorded by a band of washed-out alcoholic moneygrabbers – um, maybe not… They changed to U2’s One and Michael Jackson’s Man In The Mirror. And the result was quite nice. It seemed like a case of those with the integrity to be filmed having to apologise for beasties who’d never go near a camera, but there we are.
  • The Sound of Musicals (C4) Lovely behind-the-scenes series about West End musicals, which achieved what hours of Spotify ads didn’t: making me want to see The Bodyguard. 
  • 14 Things You Can Say To Bisexual People That Are Guaranteed To Annoy Them They’ve missed out the student favourite: “Which do you look at first when you walk into a bar?” Because obviously the purpose of going to a bar isn’t meeting friends or enjoying a quick lunchtime drink, it’s immediately finding someone you want to get off with just by the sight of them across a room.
  • Grace Slick On Ageing Rock Stars, Drugs and Life as a Painter The very talented singer from Jefferson Airplane who ended up in Starship (qv). My dad liked her, hence I grew up on her music. When I was 16 and wanted to write about music all day I had a website dedicated to her and Janis Joplin. It had visits from old schoolfriends of Grace’s who were mentioned in her autobiography. [edit: I accidentally linked to the wrong piece before – corrected now]
  • Music from Tori Amos’s fairytale musical The Light Princess at the National Unless my client-to-be comes up trumps before Christmas, I’m probably not going to have the dosh to see this before it closes so it’s nice to be able to hear some of the music. I love that it’s so recognisably Tori’s arrangement even though it isn’t her singing. My favourite, Better Than Good – on an indefinite loop –  is basically the princess in morning-after glow after she’s illicitly boffed the male lead. “…There are laws, there are taboos, well I broke them and here is the news…” Gulp!! “…For the first time in my life it feels good, better than good, to be me…” I don’t know how the story ends: I’m guessing not with one of her best friends dying and the bloke pinging her some smalltalk every six months when he’s bored. No, that would be a pretty rubbish end to a fairytale. Or to anything.
  • El Amor Di Mi Amente An American schoolgirl created a fake Spanish-American soap to give her school project an edge. Cheesiness, product placement and bad hair! “It’s not what it looks like – it’s much worse!” Marvellous!

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