Sunday, June 23, 2013

(Not for the first time) I earwig. And very little joy with the Prince track, thanks to Warner's no bloody piracy policy. Well! Then there’s more middlebrow ‘original British drama to whinge about and I have a good word to say about Richard, Duke of York, better known as Richard III

I am currently sitting in a pub after work and eavesdropping on another conversation and I can’t say it makes fascinating listening. What it does do is remind me how people – and I’m sorry to say that also includes me – are so able to believe their own bullshit so easily. I try not to, but I’m certain I don’t succeed.

At the next table (we are outside the pub under large umbrellas, which is all for the best because it is also raining, with me here because I want to smoke a cigar with my pint of Addlestones cider, though why the two I am eavesdropping on are out here, I can’t say, because neither is smoking) is a middle-aged woman and a young chap. He is 26. I know that because he has said so. From what I can gather he is a friend or acquaintance of her son Justin. I first notice her when she jumped the queue at the bar (it’s the Devonshire in Marloes Road, Kensington) while I was waiting to be served. We Brits are always at a loss when that happens and don’t know what to do. Well, actually, I do know what to do, but in the interests of peace and quiet I don’t do it. But it did rather piss me off. It wasn’t that I was desperate for that pint, it’s just I don’t very much like folk who jump queues.

I went outside and sat down and only then noticed it was the same woman. What made my ears prick up (and a word to those who might not have gathered: hacks eavesdrop – it’s sometimes called earwigging – a lot. We don’t do it for any particularly reason, but we do do it) was when the young chap, who seems to be on some course or other – from what he has does said he’s at ‘art school’ - declared that he wasn’t yet to convince that his plan to get an education was necessary who his career path would pan out – he might well decide at some future date to ‘open a shop’. The next thing I hear is that he is working – I assume as an intern, but I don’t know how these things are arranged – as   MP’s researcher. A little later he was talking about perhaps guiding his ‘career path’ into becoming a ‘special advisor’, though quite how that works out with also ‘opening a shop’ I really don’t know.

Here are a few more details in no particular order: later this year he’s off to New York where his brother now lives (and presumably he’ll be staying with his brother. His brother is only a year and a half older than he is, studied art history, but decided to get a ‘real job’ and now works for Vogue. His brother has his own office. Through his father, the young chap has relatives in Italy, and his mother is – in his words – from a well-to-do family in Ireland. While he was talking about his family, the woman – and I still can’t work out exactly why she is having a drink with him (she’s no looker, but might have been about 30 years ago). He, and presumably his brother, went to Westminster, her son, presumably Justin, went to St Paul’s. She is, for some reason, definitely flattering him.

He’s planning to do a Phd, but he hasn’t started yet, but apparently ‘people start to take you a little more seriously’ when they know you are going to do one. He got a First. He’s thinking of applying to Harvard. She has some kind of ‘network’ and he is going to be added to her ‘big list’. No idea what it is. At all. It doesn’t help that my hearing isn’t what it was. And now I’m getting bored with earwigging/eavesdropping. I’ve not heard anything interesting, and all really. He’s now talking about possibly joining the Civil Service or perhaps ‘going into lobbying’. I’ve always been rather baffled by folk who plan a ‘career path’. I never had one, but then that is possibly no surprise. They are now leaving. They’ve now gone. So much for earwigging.

. . .

Well, posting the Prince track here was a waste of time. It seems – quite understandably – Warner don’t like folk listening to tracks for free which they otherwise would have to pay for. But you can still hear the track I’m talking about here.

. . .

A new three-part series has started on the BBC here in Britain which confirms the BBC’s undoubted ability to produce middlebrow drama with high production values. So high are those values, in fact, that they remind one of nothing less than the sumptuously filmed ads for Hovis and other well-known products.

The series is called The White Queen and follows the fortunes of Lady Elizabeth Woodville, a ‘commoner’ with whom King Edward IV fell in love, Lady Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry VII, and Lady Anne Neville, daughter of the Earl of Warwich, known as ‘the Kingmaker’, and wife of Richard III, he of the gammy arm - apparently - and a crooked spine - definitely (his skeleton was recently dug up from a car park in Leicester.

I’ve only so far seen the first episode, the one about Elizabeth Woodville, and I might - or might not - be bothered to see the second. My reluctance is due to the fact that however much the BBC might like to trail the bloody series as ‘original British drama’, it is pretty average stuff. (‘Original British drama’ sounds like one of those descriptions invented by the bright lads and lasses in the publicity department which, on reflection, means less and less. As opposed to what: ‘unoriginal British drama like, for example, Hamlet and Coriolanus? The Rivals? Lady Windermere’s Fan? Forgive me for pointing it out, but in their day all these plays, and many more, both good, mediocre and bad, were ‘original’. So what does ‘original’ mean? But in Middlebrow Land it does sound good.

The Sunday Times did the same (and perhaps still does, but I wouldn’t know because I don’t read it) when they would trail something as ‘an important new series’. Important? How would we know? And the Sunday Times is also responsible for its crass ‘Rich List’. In a similar way the Guardian, Observer and The Independent compile spurious list such as ‘the 50 most influential gays and lesbians in Britain’. Who, except those on the list and their friends and hangers-on, gives a fuck?

But back to The White Queen, or rather Richard III. I am no historian (the only ‘important’ date I know is November 21, 1949. It’s the day I was born in the Peppard Road, Caversham), but from what I know of Richard, it seems unlikely the his character suddenly underwent some kind of transformation and that a man renown for insisting everyone - his nobles as well as his commoners - being subject to the rule of law while he was governing the North of England for his brother Edward IV and generally being known for his loyalty and courage, should suddenly become an absolute bastard. He was, let us remember, proclaimed king by the majority of nobles because they felt he was the only man able to keep the peace in a country which was fed up to the back teeth with war.

So what about the ‘Princes in the Tower’ you ask, and the fact that he stuck them there? Well, we should remember that the Tower of London was used as a sanctuary as much as a prison, and one - for me quite convincing - suggestion is that Henry Tudor, something of a opportunist, had the two princes murdered once he had beaten Richard at Bosworth as he regarded them as future trouble. If you are looking for two-faced, paranoid, murderous bastards, Henry Tudor, better known as Henry VII, is a far better candidate than Richard III, and England being the dangerous place it was for many more years to come, it was the victor who wrote the history. But the fact is we shall never know.

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