* * *
It is now seven days since I last went rubbernecking at A Certain Website With Carcrash Fascination In The Fandom That Remains My First Love. Hallelujah, praise the lord, I think I am cured.
* * *
My holiday plans are not going well. Please imagine your own tirade of eccentric swearing, as I am a bit knackered right now.
* * *
Sky is running Angel season three at the moment. I had forgotten it was so very good. Full of pain, suffering and betrayal. Mind you, I am easily pleased when it comes to Angel. So far, only Waiting In The Wings is more tedious than I remember.
Tonight was Sleep Tight, a fantastic episode for Wesley with some meaty exchanges for Gunn, Justine and Lilah too. I wonder though whether anyone could tell me whether Sahjahn's motives were ever explained more fully.
Did he, in fact, have some kind of motive for hating Angel, or was he a walking demon ex machina? (I seem to remember some pleasing speculation that he was Connor from the future which was jossed, but I don't recall any definitive answer)
I was even pleased by the Pylea arc when they reran that. I also noticed how very ethereal-looking Amy Acker is in that and grow ever more puzzled by the people who call her ugly and twiglike. The government is obviously ordering their opticians to put the funny lenses in their glasses, because they're not seeing straight. A stout helmet of tinfoil for all concerned should sort that out pronto.
There is a downside to re-viewing the best of season two and three Angel, and that is that the treatment of Cordelia in season five becomes even more inexplicable and upsetting. I understand why they only managed one mention of her but it doesn't sit right somehow. In season three, Angel would have walked through fire for Connor and Cordelia both, yet now there's scarce a mention.
Yes, Cordy came back as not-Cordy, but this way of dealing with it, in the sense of *not*, isn't working for me. It's as distracting as the mindwipe. I can't watch an episode without wanting them to deal with it, so that I end up more interested in the story they're not telling than the story that they are
* * *
Tonight's MI5/Spooks rerun was the one with the EERIE exercise. What a fabulous hour of TV that was. My bulletproof TV kink would appear to be bottle shows and this was one, par excellence. Oh, how I loved the end, my poor, pretty suffering Tom, Danny and Zoe.
* * *
Tonight was also the first run on E4 of The West Wing: Life On Mars, which was one of my favourite episodes of season four. It's odd, downloading season five and watching season four, because the differences in style become readily apparent.
Firstly, I should state that I could probably watch S1 and S2 of The West Wing every night for a month and still not be bored.
My flatmate likes TWW too, but she cannot understand the urge to watch an episode more than once. I am a total fangirl for my S1 and S2 DVDs and she really is the anti-fangirl. It's a wonder that we don't explode and render the universe into nothingness when we meet in the kitchen.
My sole riposte is this: Would you only listen to an album once? How could you possibly understand it properly if you did? How could you *know* the music? Sometimes, you're listening for the harmonies, sometimes for the bassline and sometimes you just want to dance. How can you do that if you listen to it once then put it away?
Because to me, Sorkin's plotting and dialogue in those first two seasons is the nearest that television will ever come to big band swing music. Each character is a particular instrument, the actors playing at the top of their game, and Sorkin is both composer and conductor, setting up an irresistible, syncopated rhythm. I will resist assigning instruments to each of the characters.
Oh wait, I lied... Josh is the horn section all by himself. Leo is the drums, keeping everyone together. Toby's the trombones, setting a foundation, a bassline. CJ is the sax, sweetly sexy and sinuous. Donna is a clarinet. Charlie and Jed are two trumpets, one spare but leading, the other winding around it. Mandy is sometimes a pleasing blare of tenor sax, and sometimes an elderly tomcat being fed bollocks-first through my granny's mangle
Life On Mars</i>, it all comes together beautifully one last time. Matthew Perry as Joe Quincy could be a great addition to the cast for while he's a rerun of Ainsley without her quirkiness, the fact that he's smart and stolid and decent and *not* irritatingly eccentric makes him a welcome break.
Will and the interns remain *just* on the right side of annoying, and the bird shenanigans are mercifully brief. The meat of the episode is in that stunning wordless reveal, where the background chatter of the inane gossip columnist is incidental music to Joe uncovering the vice-president's affair with the socialite.
An excellent episode all round, save for the irritating West Wing law which states that all Moments of High Drama Must Happen In Dramatically Appropriate Weather Conditions. Every time something big happens, it pees down.
Compare this to the new West Wing, which I am enjoying well enough, but it's as though that well-tuned orchestra is playing under a different conductor, who does not yet know its strengths, and whose music is competent rather than charismatic.
The things that made it good still remain, but the sublime swing has gone, that ineffable X-factor is missing.
The West Wing now is a good enough show, it retains enough of the original spark to make it interesting and the characters are still hugely engaging, but if it were an album, I would only need to listen to it once.
* * *
I have been reading the Precious Ramotswe books, which I can get through in two commutes and a bath, which is too swift for me to feel as though the books are anything but literary fast food of a superior kind.
There's something about them which doesn't quite work for me though, something that I cannot put my finger on.
(My cousin lived in Botswana for 10 years. If only my mum hadn't stopped speaking to that side of the family in 1984, I could've asked his opinion. Scarily, he is 50 this year. I am so out of step with the family in every possible way.)
I am pleased to learn that Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack are turning them into a TV series because Minghella has integrity, though I bet that the TV Precious Ramotswe is younger and doesn't have a fat arse.
* * *
I forgot to mention that when my mother was in town, we went to see the House of Commons because she'd never been inside the Palace of Westminster.
It was the debate on the constitutional and home affairs aspects of the Queen's Speech and we arrived just in time to see Glenda Jackson speaking on some of the more despicable aspects of the new asylum legislation.
She was mesmerising, even when speaking about social services in Hampstead and Highgate, and delivered a blistering attack on Blunkett's plan to render illegal immigrants destitute and desperate. One can't help but remember Elizabeth R when she begins speaking on matters of state. She has such a presence and great eloquence and she didn't sell her convictions down the river so that she could climb the greasy pole inside the Blair government.
She even convinced my mother --who is hardline on the point of immigration to the point where I have to ask her to stop talking about it because it makes me intensely incomfortable that she holds such views and won't be persuaded by anything I say -- that Blunkett's legislation was wrong-headed.
If you've got my mother against you on immigration, you're in trouble. Yet, sad to say, Blunkett's hard line probably plays well in the Home Counties. The issue of immigration, more than any other, is forcing the parties to the right. Ten years ago, British National Party was a joke, a bad joke, peopled by skinheads, slimy men in cheap suits with chips on their shoulder and their embittered wives.
Now it's almost a viable electoral force and holds seats on several northern councils in areas where community relations are a flashpoint. The suits are better and the spokesmen much better at delivering the glib, reasonable-sounding soundbite, but the policies are still born of a dangerous kind of hate.
The British Social Attitudes survey came out yesterday, and it discovered that racism is more prevalent in society than it was a decade ago, after years and years of slow and, it was hoped, inexorable decline. They attributed it to a blip caused by September 11 and the way that the rightwing press harps on about asylum seekers.
The trouble is that society is changing very fast and that almost always puts a torque on governments and people alike. In the past 12 years, the number of Britons of ethnic minority origin increased by 53%. Numbers of illegal immigrants are greatly up by most indicators and the rightwing press is playing on the most small-minded fears of the population and getting in the word "swamped" at every possible opportunity.
Yet the problem of how to adapt is not going to be solved by diving desperately to the right and putting people through almost unbearable privation in the hope that news of this will get back to Albania or Somalia or Bangladesh or wherever.
As if that will discourage people who have nothing from making the gamble that they can get in and be allowed to stay. As if it will not empower idiots to worsen the situation for people born here or naturalised here who just want to get on with their lives.
More, it makes me ashamed of my country.
One of the more bonkers plans was to dump illegal asylum seekers on an island somewhere while they were being processed, in the same way that Australia's policy left a boatload of people dumped on Nauru a few years back. In some bizarre version of Survivor, they would be left there until they were voted off the island. Unfortunately, Blunkett couldn't find an island willing to take asylum seekers. (I think they should dump them all on the Isle of Man with the millionaire tax exiles. There's probably plenty of room in the mansions. That's no more stupid than the original idea.)
The far-right's power is increasing in almost every country. Just today a survey found that almost one in four French people would be perfectly happy for Jean Marie Le Pen to run their local government. Jean Marie Le Pen! Good God. Meanwhile, the leader of the party that used to be Benito Mussolini's personal plaything is cuddling up to Sharon in an attempt to rehabilitate itself and Switzerland's far-right is making inroads into that weirdly undemocratic country's system of government.
(Women didn't get the vote in Switzerland until the year I was born, so I feel perfectly happy about scoring cheap points off them whenever possible. Nazi gold! Harry Lime and cuckoo clocks! The bombastic wailings of that irritating slaphead Phil Collins!)
This is a small island and unlimited immigration is not possible. However, firstly, the country is revitalised by immigration, always has been; and secondly, it should be possible for an advanced western country to manage an asylum system which is just, fast and equitable and to have a home secretary who does not crib his policies from the Big Tory Book of Being A Bastard or prejudice the trials of terror suspects. It's not too much to ask.
* * *
And now, I really, *really* should get some sleep.
It remains only to send best wishes to some people:
haphazardmethod for today,
jeviltwin for the card;
se_parsons for listening to me blather on about stuff at great length and being helpful and pragmatic;
lenadances because her Dean joy made me smile today;
denyeverything1 just because
and cofax7 for the birthday and because she is a fine person.
La commedia e finita. Time for an inappropriate icon.