In the super modern world of 2009, we have mobile phones on which irritating little tits can play terrible tinny music loudly on my train so where the hell is my jet pack? And my food capsules and my 3-D hologlasses which make me feel like I am tripping up the yellow brick road when I am in fact dodging pools of sick, drunks and crackheads in King's Cross? Where are they?
(Love the location of my new workplace. Post-industrial hellmouth is a great 'look', particularly at 10pm.)
I want time travel. I won't disturb the fabric of the causal nexus, I promise. No butterflies will be harmed in the making of this adventure. I won't even go and warn myself about the leopardskin pants or the first year of sixth form, no matter how tempting it might be. I just want to go back for a few weeks.
Since we're living in the pseudo-80s at the moment, I'd rather visit the real thing. Loud, flashy and shallow. Great music. Completely ridiculous hair. Irony hadn't been overused to such an extent that one desired to beat with a saucepan the next person who 'ironically' appreciated Love Thy Neighbour (I mean, yes, you wanted to beat anyone who appreciated LTN with a saucepan, but it wasn't because of irony). Politicians you could properly *loathe* in the knowledge that they weren't all like that, just the ones in power. These days, seems like they are all like that.
Back then there was economic misery too, and articles about cooking dead pigeons you found on the side of the road to save money and mending your shoes with sticky tape. Well, I exaggerate, but only slightly. And people from the south shook their money at people from the north at football matches, and Thatcher was doctrinaire, monstrous and magnetic, and I was dressed from jumble sales because my dad was unemployed for two years, which is not fun as a teenager. But it didn't matter because there were The Smiths and the cliffs at Flamborough; the Romantic poets and Spooky Wood; Edge of Darkness and the Who Dares Wins pandas -- and soon there were going to be jetpacks and moonbases.
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Resolution #1: to read more this year
I've been rereading V For Vendetta as part of the 80s kick. One of the things I've been thinking of doing this year is rereading things I loved in the past and trying to work out why they worked for me, and more, *how* they work. If any of you know of any writing/review/meta of V For Vendetta I'd really appreciate a link. Or just your opinion of its strengths and weaknesses would be nice.
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Resolution #2: Stop. swearing.
One of this year's resolutions is to swear less. M and I have decided that we are adopting Little Old Lady Swearing as our tactic of choice. Somehow "Have you lost your blinking mind, you motherflipping twit" is not so satisfying but I did promise...*
*Except in the car, where I am allowed to shout "****yb*****cks , you ****ing ****-faced ****head, did your ****ing indicator break, you giant ****? Where did you learn to drive, the Blindfold School of Motoring ?" as much as I like, as long as no one else is there.
 Best. Swearword. Ever. Must not be said in front of other people. ****y****ingb*****ks is even better but beyond the pale.
 I know. I am so, so ashamed.
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Resolution #3: To write more this year. If that means an LJ post about telly, so be it
I didn't watch the telly much this Christmas, and of the things I watched I loved best Blackadder Rides Again, though this might be because I wish it was the 80s, rather than this rubbish pseudo-80s we've got going on at the moment.
What I liked best was that they were so honest about how difficult a process it had been to make the programme. It sounds like everyone working on it had about five opinions, and given that several of those actors/writers are the cleverest people in most rooms they walk into, it can't have been easy trying to get them to keep their noses out. I miss the glorious silliness of Blackadder, its determined goosing of the English language, its ridiculous plots and immense quotability.
I suspect Miranda Richardson's been at the botox. She remains ungodly beautiful but now her eyebrows don't move. And what the hell was Stephen Fry doing in Africa and WTF with the thing with his feet and the masseuse? WTF? I have rummaged through my box of many words and acronyms and the only ones that fit are "WTF were you thinking, Stephen?"
I am still weirdly attracted to Rowan Atkinson in Blackadder II. My favourite editorial response ever was in Smash Hits, when they had Black Type. Anyone remember Black Type? Just me? Okay then.
So anyway, some poor soul wrote in "My friend thinks Blackadder is well gorgeous" and Black Type's response was: "They're called glasses". Which is very funny when you're 12 and reading it for the first time. It was as funny as the All About Eve review in the NME by Barbara Ellen which made me weep silent tears of laughter in the John Rylands Library for a full half an hour. I think my friends knew I probably wasn't studying The Federalist Papers.
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Resolution #4: No passive, unthinking consumption. That goes for TV, food and music
Two of the things I most wanted to watch this festive season were The Royle Family and Gavin & Stacey. I loved one and thought the other was total bobbins. Had The Royle Family been written by anyone other Caroline Aherne, would all the critics have scurried to praise it? Had it been written by someone like, say, Paul Mayhew-Archer, wouldn't everyone have been shocked and outraged and saying that it portrayed the working classes as stupid and feckless and ignorant and this was class war of the worst kind, yadda yadda yadda?
The jokes that worked were lazier retreads of ones that had worked before, or half-arsed lines that Ricky Tomlinson or Sue Johnston turned beautifully. The stuff with David Senior was a mass of tics and stunts, overplayed by Tom Courtenay, and there were numerous lines that wouldn't have made it into the first few series of The Royle Family in a month of Sundays. The reason that show worked in the first place was because it was beautifully observed and played with great naturalism. It was like sitting down in the front room at my gran's and listening to my mum's cousin Susan bemoaning her fate, and my aunties talk about [whoever] who is "no better than she should be" (a terrible slur) and who in the family was doing what scandalous thing and who had eaten all the pies. The Tv would be on, and there would be a tin of biscuits on the table and maybe the odd game of cards played for buttons, and all the jokes were funny because they were inside jokes.
At its best, The Royle Family let you in on its inside jokes -- and they were told fondly.
I am not sure who the joke was on this Christmas. Possibly the BBC, for paying Caroline Ahearne, Craig Cash, Henry Normal and some bloke I've never heard of to sully the memory of a great sitcom.
Gavin and Stacey was thirty-five minutes of decent material stretched into an hour and the main fight was too forced, but it stayed just on the right side of broad and ridiculous. However, inside the sad jokes about Mint Baileys, cooking turkeys and Do They Know It's Christmas, was a sad and intricate subplot about Smithy, Nessa and Neil, beautifully played. I wish they'd stopped after series two, but since they didn't, it wasn't too bad a way to carry on.
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Resolution #5: to find out more about my family
Much to my surprise, my dad has been doing some geneaological research. Or rather -- typically for my dad -- he has found a distant relative who did the research and sweethearted a copy out of him. I now know my relatives back to the seventeenth century. 1678 is where the trail begins, in parish records.
I didn't discover any lost lords or privateers or intriguing mysteries. They were bare-bones-of-the-arse-poor fishing stock, scrabbling to live on the few patches of flat land on an island that looks out over the swell and howl of the Atlantic Ocean.
They only started to spread from their home village in the early twentieth century as a result of too many brothers and too little work. These are the names repeated through that history: Severin, Cornelius, Julius, Hans, Martin, Jenny, Borghild, Anne. And this is where I come from:
It doesn't even have a wikipedia entry, which I think is how we define the boonies these days. At least I come by my love of the sea honestly.