My Week In Links (Festive Edition)

“Join the others in the bar by ten. Peace and goodwill to men. Me missing you again; that’ll be Christmas…” That’ll Be Christmas, Thea Gilmore

The last link roundup til January. Hope you all have a lovely Christmas/holiday season.

  • Watt On Earth At my good friend’s annual Christmas shindig at the weekend, the discussion turned to kids’ TV nostalgia (of course). We all (well, those of us in our late-20s/early30s) remembered this early 90s sci-fi show on Children’s BBC about an alien who comes to earth disguised as a human, hiding from his evil uncle’s top henchman, written by current Doctor Who writers Pip and Jane Baker. It all looks different through adult eyes (a man in a shellsuit befriends a kid and implores him not to tell his mum…hmmm…) but it’s good fun. And frankly, worth it just for the title graphics and the mother’s hair. Also, the kid’s family run a local newspaper. (I’ve worked out the origin of my wanting to be a journalist is that every kids’ TV show featured characters who worked on a newspaper and it sounded like fun…)
  • And here it is sung by a group of Irish women who look like relief newsreaders on Channel Five…
  • Hyperbole and a Half I know I already link to it in my blogroll but my lovely friend got me the book for Christmas!!! We were coerced into opening our presents early and I’m glad I did because it made my evening! I’ll write more about it when I’ve read it all; I’ve had to reign myself in so I don’t finish it all before Christmas has even started…

And my Christmas Music playlist…


My Week In Links (December, Week 2)

A bit of a breezy one this week, because thoughts are in a million places at once:

  • The final minutes of East German state TV in 1992  A friend sent me this little piece of my heritage. At midnight. If he wasn’t gay I’d marry him (yes, I think my marriage criteria can basically be whittled down to “likes watching mesmerisingly awful things on the internet late at night…”)
  • Best Responses To Sexist Insults Inspired by the Twitter account @EverydaySexism, which I’ve come close to unfollowing so many times because it upsets me so much. I think my personal favourite is: “A friend heard a guy shout ‘Sit on my face!’ at a girl who replied ‘Why, is your nose bigger than your dick?’
  • Birgitte Hjort Sorensen (Katrine from Borgen) on Woman’s Hour No more Borgen (sniff…) but plenty more to see of the cast, by the sounds of things. For those who didn’t watch Borgen, Katrine is a journalist who flits between highly-paid jobs like it’s 1997, despite a love life so complicated it would render most people unfit for anything but listening to jazz on the sofa all day…
  • Susan Boyle ‘relieved’ by Aspergers Diagnosis As a late-diagnosed dyspraxic, I can imagine that. I can imagine it’s not entirely a relief; that there’s a lot of anger, reframing and many what-ifs in there too. But it explains a lot. Bravo for her.
  • Brown’s Hotel The venue for one of this week’s Masterchef semi-finals. And of a couple of memorable (memorable inasmuch as the wine came with water…) sojourns in my life. I mentioned in passing that I’d been there and that the bar is named after Donovan and lined with his portraits. Some familial confusion ensued over whether I meant Terence, Donovan Leitch or Jason…
  • Official Website of the Countess of Lucan: Setting The Record Straight I watched the first part of ITVs drama Lucan this week for reasons largely owing to Christopher Eccleston and someone’s child, knowing next to nothing about the case. After reading this – and Lynn Barber’s astonishing interview with John Aspinall – I was fascinated. And pretty saddened. Don’t, whatever you do, read the crackers Radio Times puff-piece where Roy Kinnear describes Lord Lucan as a “kind, generous man.” And a warning: if you haven’t seen the drama yet, it makes Tennessee Williams look like CBeebies…
  • Peter O’Toole: All aboard the Guinness bus? I really want this anecdote to be true. It certainly beats mine of: “He came to see a play that I went to while he was in the BBC’s Casanova, and walked past me in the dark outside the stage door. I didn’t recognise him and wondered why everyone else had gone quiet…” 

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!

My Week In Links (November, Week 4)

(Slightly late because of phone outage saga)

  • Boris Jonhson Is A Bit Of A Tool. And In Other News, It’s Raining Boris Johnson says greed is good and poverty is other people’s fault for being stupid. So, a man who considers himself intelligent and believes in the free market doesn’t understand that wages are set by markets, or that you can’t singularly quantify intelligence. Jolly good.
  • Imagine: Hitler, The Tiger and Me Beautiful BBC1 documentary about Berlin-born children’s author Judith Kerr (The Tiger Who Came to Tea and When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit) and how her family fled the Nazis due to the persecution of her Jewish father. Took me back to learning about WW2 as an Anglo-German and the struggle to reconcile the Germany I knew with what I was hearing. A few fun titbits took the weight off slightly: Judith is in her 90s and can still run up stairs.
  • Hitler’s Children Another BBC documentary from a while ago which the above reminded me of, in which the descendants of leading Nazis discuss their guilt and shame-ridden childhoods, and meet survivors of the Holocaust. Warning: Will make you cry a lot.
  • Borgen: Series Three You have to be careful with Borgen – it’s easy to forget that it’s shown as a double bill and find episodes yanked off iPlayer before you can catch up (as happened to me with the finales of series one and two) but it’s easy to fall back into if you miss it. In this series, Birigitte Nyborg (the now-divorced now-former Danish PM) wears glasses and has an English lover (OMG!) Katrine is a mummy (double-OMG) and Kasper continues to be a plonker with added ridiculous hair. Of course, a UK equivalent wouldn’t work because it would be spun as “See?! See?! Women can’t have it all!” rather than “Nobody can have it all and besides, ‘it’ is sort of bollocks anyway,” which is its actual point. Other ways Denmark is not the UK: In Denmark, blonde journalists with bad taste in lovers earn really good money…
  • Boozy Adults, Serious Kids: Welcome To Ab Fab Britain The Spectator’s annual quota of sensible articles.Talks about how today’s twenty and thirty somethings take fewer drugs and fewer risks than their baby boomer parents because they can’t afford to. Apparently that’s still news to some people.
  • Kenwood House Because my phone line was borked by cable thieves this week I went to the newly re-opened Kenwood House. And took many photos they thought I was press (separate blog coming up)
  • Roger Roger (BBC1) Underrated late-90s sitcom by Only Fools and Horses writer John Sullivan set in a London minicab firm. I bought DVDs of a VHS recording from eBay a few years ago and re-watched some this week. For those who don’t know I won’t go into what first drew me to this but the draw for most people is a young Philip Glenister (Gene Hunt from Life on Mars) who plays one of the cabbies, a deluded pub singer with dreams of stardom and a frustrated long-term girlfriend. She goes to all his gigs, where they pretend they don’t know each other, chat each other up then go and have sex in his car. In my innocent early teens I didn’t know this was a classic game old couples play (see also Kate Bush’s Babooshka – same principle) and was a bit puzzled. Here’s an episode from the second series (because it’s the first one I could find on YouTube – there may be others…)
  • Portrait of a Domestic Abuser Sensitive blog post about domestic abuse by someone working with victims, referencing Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson.

My Week In Links (November, Week 3)

In a bid to manage my time/find and remember things I need better, I’m going to start doing a weekly roundup of links I’ve found interesting, divided into general links and links related to the biggest project I’m currently working on (currently The Novel). I know it’s a bit of a 1999 thing to do but it works better for me than favouriting/bookmarking things in a thousand different places…