Privatize the pavements!

David Cameron's picture on the 10 Downing Stre...

David Cameron’s picture on the 10 Downing Street website (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Privatize the roads! promises our Coalition Prime Minister and Conservative Party Leader David Cameron.

In a speech to the nation, well to the Westminster Village hacks, crony-journalist’s finest, he went on.

Yes! Yes! Yes! But this is only the start ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet, no really, you really haven’t seen nothing yet.

This is our pledge to you – if we can find a way to privatize something, anything, we will. God Save The Queen, God Save Margaret Thatcher.

The natural progression I am sure you will agree to privatizing the roads is to privatize those – those bits on the sides, that losers sorry non-motorists – pedestrians? – use.

Privatize the pavements. End this era of free-loading strollers.

There will be many benefits of pavement privatization, most importantly, of course, that it will make huge amounts of money for the City hopefully including some of our corporate partners or donors – tomato, tomatho. Perhaps this will not improve our walkways but at least profits will be generated and a lot of them,  and don’t worry it wil be made by a few not the many which is always a good thing, none of that ‘we’re all in it together’ talk. Pure nonsense. Pure socialism!

And this brings us to one of those important and beautiful C words – no not Capitalism not even Conservatism (audience laughs) but of course I talk of Choice.

pedestrian sunday

pedestrian sunday (Photo credit: Commodore Gandalf Cunningham)

Some consider the quality of our sidewalks or their mere basic functional directional need to get us from A to B as being most paramount but they would be wrong. What exercises the good people of this country, those who will vote for us anyway, is choice or rather the lack of it. We leave our homes to be confronted with one pavement only. I am sure you share my frustration at this. Well, no longer. With this privatisation a utopia of multiple pavement options awaits us.

Privatization will mean you will have a multitude of pavements passing by your home competing for your business (coughs) use – potato, potahto – it is what you have been dreaming of. I am sure. A future too where the escalator walkway will no longer be the preserve of airport arrivals and departures but will at last come outside and become a feature of our suburban streets and shopping centre cruise-bys. For an extra-levy, naturally.

This government is keen to encourage healthy life-styles and any mileage beyond the first fifty per day will be free.

Some of our critics have suggested that privatization of the pavements is backdoor privatization of walking itself. Nothing could be further from the truth. You can trust us.

Further the first fifty yards of walking sorry pavement use will be levy-free. This is nothing to do with us favouring the motorist by allowing those without a garage or driveway to get to their car – rather a concession to our coalition partners who love their thresholds and are determined that no-one using Britain’s pavements should have to pay for the first fifty yards per day. More details will follow in a speech I am to give three days from now. [Privately a leading conservative expressed regret at this concession as ‘more crazy socialism from our Lib Dem partners’ and ‘as soon as we are free to govern alone we will make sure every UK citizen gets charged for every step they make, this is what business and their shareholders want, and as we all know, this is what really matters’]

London pavement

A pavement! In London!

The Department for Transport when asked about costing advised it was still in talks with the Treasury but that it was up to the market and they predicted it would likely be something innocuous ‘like a penny per step’.

Later in the week the Department for Transport also warned that it has seen websites appearing advocating other forms of bipedal movement to defray the pedestrian-duty (as it was now being called)  such as hopping, skipping and jumping but that this was not the British way and hopping in particular could be very dangerous. What if, for example, some one accidentally hopped off the pavement into oncoming traffic. Think of the poor motorist, not to say their insurer. Oh and the injured hopper. The Department also advised they would take a dim view regarding an explosion of space-hoppers on our pavements adding ‘no one wants to see that sort of thing on Britain’s streets’. And that the government were always minded that any use of the public pavement has to be considered in terms of revenue generation sorry public safety.

In his follow-up speech the PM stood behind his podium and self-importantly shuffled the papers he was reading from and then looked earnestly toward the TV camera’s in his this-is-my-serious-face (just don’t look into my laughing eyes) address-the-nation mode.

Currently there is a casual anarchy on our pavements with pedestrians dangerously navigating on both the left and ride side, and a constant stream of inconsiderate slow moving elderly and dawdling toddlers and other non-motorist los…loiterers without commercial intent I guess you might call them. And they unlike motorists can take to the sidewalks without any training or walking license. The privatization of our pavements will ensure that pedestrians are moving in an orderly fashion and that zig-zagging on a public walk-way will be a thing of the past.

He added they would be looking at introducing a speed limit on the public-walk-ways with penalties for anyone walking too slowly.

The Opposition parities were vehemently against these proposals with Labour describing it as ‘venal and crazy’ and, as they have said about all previous privatizations, a ‘privatization too far’ although they have not said they will reverse it should they get back into power. A spokesman added that they could not possibly make such promises at this time as by the time of the next election it could have established itself as a popular policy with the country. Or at least with the swing-voters in their marginal seats.

A Big Issue seller in High Street, Oxford, Eng...

A Big Issue seller in High Street, Oxford, England in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, when pressed if he had ever used a pavement replied ‘that he was sure that he had done’. The Prime Minister was keen to add that he had most certainly done so remembering he had walked on one in London in he thinks 2004 though it might have been 2003 but you could not expect to remember details like that. But, he huffily assured us that he had, explaining that he remembers as he had been accosted, coughs, approached, by a young man selling a copy of the Big Issue, which in passing he added was a wonderful example of entrepreneurship and which had also given him the seeds for his idea of the Great Society now referred to as the Big Society and perhaps yet Big-Ish Society. He also recalled that he did not have any cash on him at the time so sadly he emphasized he could not buy the magazine but did pat the seller on his shoulder and exhorted him ‘to keep it up’ before quickly moving on.

Labour Leader Ed Milliband was quick to take to the pavements and more importantly to ensure a camera-crew was in pursuit and dismissing the whole policy in he hoped a sound-bite that would taste good ‘This is the Government’s doomed Chasing Pavements strategy’. Sky News TV naturally did not hesitate to film Ed on his media-circus walkabout to the strains of Adele. Whilst the Guardian newspaper made a similar jibe about David Cameron’s pavement privatization policy in a barely read column in their Transport section

Pavement

Another pavement! Not in London!

The Prime Minister went on to say that he was very excited about the commercial opportunities for privatizing the walkways (adding perambulation is a privilege not a right) and though they had not got into the detail (at all in fact) options would include pavement tolls, GPS tracking, Pram Cams – whichever was the most efficient to implement, or rather cost-efficient to implement, oh damn it you know what I mean ‘the one that generates the most profit for the private companies running them that I have some hopefully concealed commercial relationship with’.

Related to this a senior member of The Minister of Transport said that his Executive Position and newly acquired shareholding in a number of companies touted as most likely to be awarded the contracts for the running of these projects was of course quite coincidental and had no influence on the government’s commissioning process or desire  to move forward quickly with it.

The PM alluded to the 1966 song ‘Taxman’ saying he sympathized with the Beatles in respect of ‘if you take a walk we will tax your feet’ saying no one wants to have their feet taxed. Having their feet charged an extortionate fee by a private company on the other hand would not have vexed George Harrison at all. Private is good, public is bad and thus a private fleecing is always to be preferred.

The PM beginning to wrap up his speech crowbarred in the new  (he hoped) meme for the pavement privatization – ‘Walk fare is walk fair’.

The slogan for the campaign would be ‘Walking proudly into the future with the Conservatives – change jingling in your pockets…’

They were determined he added to get this signed off in parliament in the first half of the session to allow for the privatization of the air-supply in the second half. He then denounced the human-rights-lobby adding that breathing is not a right but a privilege and always more appreciated if hard-earned.

Ends to the Police ‘Every breath you take, every step you make, we’ll be charging you’…

Advertisements

The Sarah Millican Television Program – a little bit of what you fancy

The Sarah Millican Television Program Audience shotThe Sarah Millican Television Program is TV about TV – yes Meta TV – and so this blog post to be a TV appraisal about TV appraisal – the Meta-Meter is going off the dial here! – as if said critic hoisted up their big fat lardy tv-watching ass from their oh so comfortable armchair and stepped through the screen to chance their thoughts with both a studio and TV watching audience at large.

A potential infinite loop of the Sarah Millican Television Program reviewing the Sarah Millican Television Program reviewing the Sarah M…

It is not quite as if Caitlin Moran or Grace Dent took their TV critic routines from their respective newspapers to the Telly Box as Sarah Millican is already a star of sorts of the TV screen – she has been a regular guest on comedy panel shows popping up on Frank Skinner’s Opinionated, Jimmy Carr’s 8 out of 10 Cats… in fact it would be quicker to list the British comedy shows over the last five odd years that she has not appeared on. She even appeared regularly for a while on Loose Women which really is no laughing matter. Some relief from its cheery banality I guess. But this show is her first where she is as they say stage-centre.

This is a Telly show about Telly but one that is not embarrassed to admit that affection and that it is a near-all-consuming one. For many a TV critic it seems TV itself  is far too low-brow and a temporary gig where they will be calling themselves a Culture Critic whilst waiting to be taken more seriously reviewing Art or even Film. Not Sarah Millican.

She begins this show by commenting

I love TV, it has taught me everything I know. I spend so much time with my TV it is like family. Take Eastenders. Eastenders has taught me many things. Turn off the baby-monitor before shagging your neighbour. And at some point we are all going to have to marry Ian Beale!

The Sarah Millican Television Program Opening Couch sequenceWhen Eastenders is not being the most watched TV show in Britain it is only because Coronation Street is being the most watched TV show in Britain  – we Brits like our Soap Operas. Perhaps this is true of all Countries – that we all love our Soap Operas more than any other format whilst at the same time all of those said shows being incomprehensible outside the country they were made in – and not just because of their native language! I understand that Coronation Street for example never took off in the USA – and indeed had to be subtitled! – last time I checked Mancunian was English! Of course I know we don’t all love our soap operas, there are likely far more that never watch them than do, but we can take that as a given that when we mean most watched what we really mean is least unwatched. Clear?!

She then comments how she uses the TV schedule to plan her day, like the One Show.

When you hear the music for the One Show you know that technically it’s okay to start drinking!

For those of you not familiar with the One Show, which is as likely to apply to those living in Britain as outside of it, it kicks off at One in the afternoon not the morning! And for those of you outside of Britain she is not meaning drinking tea! I will let Sarah Millican explain what it is about

It is a magazine show. You know, those magazines you can get that are about spiders, different types of ham and what JLS think of dry-stone walling!

In each episode of her show she will be looking at different aspects of TV viewing – previous episodes have looked at wildlife and dating programs, and yet another  costume dramas with special reference to zombies. Alas I missed that one! This episode will be looking at food and survival programs – another natural coupling!

And so on to the aforementioned main courses. Though as she explains the closest she gets to both is

Eating chips outside

She describes cookery shows as like ‘food porn’ saying that she is not really interested in the making of it just ‘the money shot at the end’! Next in her sights is Nigella Lawson where the TV camera often seems more interested in how she is shot than any meal she might happen to be preparing. Or has she more pithily describes –

Nigella is shot like an episode of CSI. Only shot from the waist up! I love those bits when she comes out in the night for a snack, like a sexy badger!

A sure sign that I watch too much TV is her next joke about Gordon Ramsay’s corrugated forehead ‘from constantly looking under the grill’ reminding me of another  joke about the Scot Chef’s washboard forehead  from Sean Lock’s  Lockipedia Live show ‘the shit that must have gone on with Gordon in his past’! Yes it is quite a specialized hinterland of comedy the comedy about Gordon Ramsay’s creased forehead that I have found myself in!

On meals for one she commented that she did not like them

Not because they make me feel lonely. I just don’t think they are big enough!

As with a lot of comedians ‘it is the way they tell’em’. I am writing her jokes down but that may not really do justice to them. Or be the point. These jokes have to be heard not read, you cannot hear the vocal inflections nor see the facial ticks, when the words are rendered cold on the page or screen. Perhaps too you need to hear her accent, its jaunty Geordie (North East England) melody. Likewise the interaction with the TV audience – the laughter, and whether uproarious or embarrassed or hesitant and the pauses in the jokes to allow for all of that too.

The Sarah Millican Television Program Olly Smith

Olly Smith

As well as her stand up comedy routine she also has guests. Her first is a Wine Expert – Olly Smith from Saturday Kitchen and Iron Chef UK who she describes as having ‘a firm body, nutty top notes and a lovely nose’!

Her opening question sets the tone for what is to follow

Olly, do you ever worry that you’re encouraging people to drink wine a bit early in the day?

A few questions later she asks him whether he prefers

To spit or to swallow

The questions in between did not depart too much from that Graham Norton vein. Despite Olly ostensibly being invited on to talk about wine she had told him early on that she did not actually like wine – unless it was sparkly – heathen!

Her humour being a playful white wine rather than the dark underbelly of a red wine.

A Sarah Millican interview is not really a dialogue rather a comedy monologue with her guest as much a victim as an equal partner but as ways to die being tickled toward it is not a bad way to go!

She ended with a joke about her being a boozing lightweight

The last time I had a pint of Shandy I went to Tescos afterwards and I was a little big giggly and I bought furniture polish and I don’t even have furniture to polish!

She then moves on to Survival programs

My phone died last week and I had to use a Pay Phone, I felt like Bear Grylls

On advice from her father following passing her driving test.

You should always have in the boot of your car at all times, a blanket, a shovel and a flask. And he’s right because whenever I’ve killed a man I’m always parched!

The Sarah Millican Television Program Charley Boorman

With Charley Boorman

Her guest for this survival part of her show is Charley Boorman as much it seems for his motorcycle adventures  in Long Way Round with Ewan McGregor. He talks about one episode in Mongolia where desperate for something to eat they got themselves invited into the home of a Mongolian family and were presented with 200 testicles – we learn that they pop when you eat them! Mmm – I would have to be very hungry.

It is during this section that we also meet Sarah Millican’s dad which is also another regular part of this show. They hook up via Skype. I am not sure that this section works – it feels a bit folksy and the genial family banter not really translating out of their family home to our homes, family or otherwise.

His relevance in this section however revolves around the survival skills he taught her when she was a young child such as how to escape a burning building! Charlie Boorman when asked whether he has given any such advise to his children answers only ‘that they should get marshmallows’!

She then moves on to another comedy routine about food commercials. Commenting on the (upmarket) Marks and Spencer TV advert with sexy female voice-over ‘It’s not just chicken’ she compares to (downmarket) Aldi and suggests that they should have their own version ‘It’s not quite chicken’!

We then move on to the Great British Bake Off and her final guest Celebrity Baker Paul Hollywood which culminates in them preparing a scone-mix which leads inexorably it seems to a recreation of the Demi Moore Patrick Swayze Ghost scene not forgetting the Righteous Brothers crooning over it all – only bread-dough filling in for clay! Finding out more about Paul Hollywood (is that name for real, really?!) and by that I mean looking him up on Wikipedia I discover that before studying as a baker he studied as a sculptor. Spooky?!  Or more likely the show’s researchers also use Wikipedia! And apropos of nothing the other key fact about him it seems is that he was responsible for creating the most expensive bread in Britain, Almond and Roquefort SourDough, selling for £15 a loaf at Harrods – now you know, whether you wanted to or not!

The Sarah Millican Television Program with Paul Hollywood

With Paul Hollywood

Sarah Millican asks him if he were a bread what kind would he be. She states that his fellow baker on the show Mary Berry would be a sour-dough. He replies a Baguette. I mentioned Graham Norton earlier but this really is just another strain of Oo-er humour running back through Julian Clary and Les Dawson all the way back to the Carry On movies – perhaps it is Protestant humour – that necessary mix of risque and repression…she adds that she thinks she would be a Crusty Bloomer. After a while of this sort of humour every household object in eye-shot becomes a symbol of some sexual adventuring. He adds that he prefers the dough wet to dry, if it is too dry it does not work – your mind is now working over I am sure – innuendo is insidious!

The episode ends with some closing jokes.

How Soufflés are like boyfriends – you can always try again but it is annoying thinking about the time – and eggs! – you wasted on the last one!

It now seems a near pointless detail to include what time TV shows are broadcast, even on which channel they are broadcast, such are the endless ways they can be subsequently seen. But if you want to catch it when it is first broadcast, or indeed are able to, The Sarah Millican Television Program is a BBC Two broadcast, of a Thursday evening, of about thirty minutes and for a six week run.

The Sarah Millican Television Program Logo

The Jelly Fox – Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy E4 LogoLike Salvador Dali and Mick Jagger recreating The Jungle Book. Or a William Blake inspired party-time.

Noel Fielding's Luxury ComedySo describes the associated web-page for Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy from production company Secret Peter showing on E4, the new comedy from one half of The Mighty Boosh, the eponymous Noel Fielding, but though the other Boosher, Julian Barratt, is absent the spirit of Boosh is still very much at play.

Not just its spirit though but also some of the Boosh actors. Michael Fielding (is he more than a name-sake to Noel I wonder?!) who played Naboo turns up here as Noel’s anteater butler – yes you read that right! And Rich Fulcher who played Bob Fossil turns up as William Jessop celebrating his one hundredth birthday and being visited by the ghost of a flea. This may start to give you a feel for what this Luxury Comedy is about – or not.

We are warned that it contains adult humour – in the UK that means only suitable for those over 18 – if you are 17 and British sorry but then this is not for you! Though this show may well not be for you however old you might be – more of that later. It may just as well have warned us that it contains childish humour and that if you are serious-minded-adult-type to watch at your peril.  For Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy is for the child in all of us, if, that is, your inner child was expelled from Kindergarten…

Incidentally to establish that you are indeed eighteen and beyond, Channel 4 make the serious demand of you that you click in a box on their online player confirming such and you are then cheerily beckoned in, not a bleary burly bludgeoning bouncer in sight. Anyone seventeen and younger will naturally be deterred by this. Okay that’s enough sarcasm.

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - The Jelly Fox cast

The cast awaits you

The Luxury Comedy starts in musical fashion with the entire cast however significant however insignificant welcoming us to them and their show.

This second episode, The Jelly Fox, then cuts to Noel Fielding in black leather jumpsuit and Aladdin Sane style face-paint dancing around to a nineteen sixties rock song (I could have just said ‘the 60’s’ couldn’t I as I doubt most of you are familiar with the rock music of the 1860’s).

The rock music so alluded is from 1960’s psychedelic group Lysergic Casserole who recorded just one album which ‘no-one has ever heard of’ and described by Noel Fielding as ‘the best band ever’ but then explaining that

they disappeared having took so much LSD they got trapped in their own guitar case

And the episode proceeds from there. There is no linear way to refer to this episode as it is beyond transcription if not description. You will either get tuned in to its own particular madness or look upon it aghast and askance before tuning out toward the lesser insanity of the BBC News at 10 or James May’s Things You Need to Know – James May is very likely in fact Noel Fielding’s TV Uncle – I do not know if that is helpful or pretentious of me – or both.

We see Lysergic Casserole’s guitar-case-trip as they experience Orson Welles having a romantic dinner with a cheese-cake, and then Welles pulling a skipping rope out of his…well I will let you use your own imagination here!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy Lysergic Casserole

Lysergic Casserole – the amount of times I have spelt this wrong over the years

Their music like all the music in the show is provided by Sergio Pizzorno of British rock group Kasabian – I was sceptical when I first heard of this collaboration not thinking Kasabian’s rather masculine swaggering feet-firmly-on-the-ground music would best serve Noel Fielding’s head-in-the-clouds whimsy – Mercury Rev or Polyphonic Spree would have been more fitting I felt – but Pizzorno’s music sits very comfortably with Fielding’s madcap visions.

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - Diamond Back

Diamond Back

Later Noel Fielding decides to rescue Lysergic Casserole from their Guitar Case bound fate by erecting a ramp made of Ryvita! – it is not just their freedom he has in mind though, he considers that they might make a second album and he could be their manager! But his snouty nosed butler reminds him that the sixties was a half-a-century ago and like Austin Powers their respective mojo’s might not adapt to the transport to the present day…alas they and their Harley’s trajectory is toward the guitar-case of the rock-star they call Diamond Back – Diamond Back having risen from the swamps of Putney, his father a pet-shop junkie and his mother, well she had a hundred eyes. Clear? I hope not.

Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy has comedy and music, that at least is established. It also has art. Much of the art is provided by Fielding but not all of it. Animation is provided by the show’s director Nigel Coan. Coan is another Boosh connection having provided its animation too.The Luxury Comedy sets are art and there is one scene where Noel Fielding himself is producing art. The most striking and impressing aspect of the program is its look – its visual swagger.

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - Keep off the Chest

Artist at work – can you see what it is yet?

And as noted in one scene we see Fielding painting on canvas – we can assume this was done in real-time and condensed into TV-time – Rolf Harris used to do this kind of thing, well not quite this kind of thing!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - press-ups

The finished work

If this show is going to work for you you have to take it on its own terms. Concepts like narrative development and dramatic conventions are only going to get in your way. You have to go with its flow, let it get into your blood and nerves, let Noel Fielding get inside your head. If you are not prepared to do that then the Singing Detective and Celebrity Juice are also scheduled alongside it – their own particular brands of madness may be more accommodating of yours. Though these allusions to other channels imply a world before time-shifted TV of  +1 channels and endless repeats, of online players and PVR’s, and as if the most of you would be watching it during its first E4 Broadcast Thursday evening’s at 10 o’clock!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy with Andy Warhol

With his cleaner

I alluded to the Boosh lineage but not all of them are from that particular ancestral tree. For example Noel Fielding’s cleaner Andy Warhol. Yes that Andy Warhol. Well is there another Andy Warhol?! He is played by Tom Meeten. In this episode he is planning a vacation with Picasso and Keith Haring and has organised a cleaner replacement going by the name of Frida Kahlo! His suitcase was given to him by Jackson Pollack and his rucksack is borrowed from René  Magritte – not at all art for art’s sake this! – Fielding comments about the Magritte rucksack ‘Yeah it’s a nice design but probably gets a bit annoying’!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy René Magritte Rucksack

René Magritte Rucksack

Though this episode is called The Jelly Fox it is only in the second part of the show that mention is made of him! We see Little Chrissie and Spoon Snake and their crew on their way to meet The Jelly Fox. And who or what is the Jelly Fox? Well

he gives you what you need. He lives in a blue-fabric castle with creases in it. He will give you a tablet that dissolves in wine. To wipe away your past…

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy with Dolly

Dolly and the Warhol-cum-Kahlo Cleaner

We then cut back to Noel Fielding and another new (ir)regular character Dolly. Dolly is played by Doll Wells. Dolly has given him a face-painting of David Bowie. Except that she has painted a Tiger. We then see cleaner Frida Kahlo except that it is Andy Warhol wearing a dress. He wants to wear a dress in public but is uncomfortable in doing so, so passes himself off as Mexican surrealist painter Frida Kahlo! – the usual cowardly recourse of the man in denial of their transvestism! Dolly advises him that he should not be ashamed of this. She then advises that she dresses up as a Fireman and a Baby and calls herself a Firebaby! Noel then wants to know whether she dresses with a fireman top-half and nappy or romper suit and a helmet. She explains the latter, obviously! He considers it a joke, she a serious concept. They then argue over this point. Getting nowhere they decide to consult Hawkeye – the complex technology that resolves the flight of balls in Tennis and Cricket not Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce of M*A*S*H* fame!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - Hawkeye

Hawkeye declares

If only all dilemmas could be resolved this way! Hawkeye decides it is a Concept, and that is an end to it!

It is only at the show’s end that we actually encounter the Jelly Fox – the term plot-spoiler has no impact on a show like this but I won’t reveal it all the same.

If you should be watching this on the 4OD online player you may note a ‘More Like This’ option – but other than its previous episode there is almost certainly nothing more like this on E4 or any other TV channel currently….and I am thankful for this.

Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy happily revels in its own wild imaginings. I am happy to revel along in it too – and I don’t have to take anything to do so. The whole psyche-shifting experience is all perfectly legal!Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - The Jelly Fox

Pearl and Dave – Isy Suttie

Pearl and Dave - Isy Suttie - BBC Radio 4My last post reviewed a radio show from 2001, The Boosh, that later became a TV show. This post is a review of another radio comedy show broadcast on the same channel BBC Radio 4 but a new 2012 offering called Pearl and Dave. Will it I wonder make its way to TV too? It does not matter to me whether it does do or not but for the sake of symmetry of this paragraph I felt duty bound to pose the question!

Who is Isy Suttie some of you will be asking, well okay nearly all of you will be asking, even more than nearly all if you live outside of Great Britain.

If you do not know her name you may at least know her face. And this will most likely be as Dobby from  British comedy sitcom Peep Show. She played the IT Support bod sometime called upon by the David Mitchell character Mark Corrigan at his place of work. There was an awkward relationship if not romance between the two of them too. I don’t know how helpful this background is to you – many a scene and episode she was not even in.

Whites

Whites – she’s the one on the far right – or is it the far left – I am never quite sure

She also turned up as Kiki in another British sitcom Whites, the Alan Davies celebrity chef soft-satire. I say turned up as her appearances were even more fleeting than in Peep Show. And Whites only lasted one series. I thought it had more potential than that and others clearly think so too as there is a Twitter campaign to recall the show. Isy Suttie is one of its, I am sure not self-interested, signatories.

According to the IMDB she was also in an all-time favourite comedy sitcom of mine Love Soup – can you read my surprise at this? – she played a researcher apparently but I cannot recall her.

So there you have, it she appeared in three British sitcoms from the Noughties of varying degrees of obscurity and for parts varying from blink and you will miss her to at best a flickering presence. So by way of enlightening you all as to who she is I may as well saved you and me these last four paragraphs!

Isy Suttie is a comedian then, both performer and writer of it. And her performances include not just innovative if under-appreciated sitcom characters but perhaps its riskiest and bravest of formats – live stand-up.

Which is where Pearl and Dave comes in. This is a stand-up comedy routine which she wrote and performed at an Edinburgh comedy show in 2011. This is its transcription to radio. Nothing has been changed, the routine is still the same, and there is a live audience too – I wonder why we say live audience, we can assume I think such an audience is not dead, though I suppose such crowds would at least not heckle you. Always an upside.

This show is still available to listen to on the BBC’s iPlayer but not for much longer – January 25 if you really need to know. For those very few of you reading this before January 25, 2011! The sites brief description is as follows:

Isy Suttie recounts a funny and moving love story much of which is told through song.

Oh yes, her performance is not just a stand-up comedy routine but a singer-songwriter routine. This may cause a reflexive shudder in some of you, all but that hardy breed with a rare penchant for both Victoria Wood and 1970’s Billy Connolly.

Victoria Wood is an obvious, very obvious comparison, I know it is, what with them both being wo…wonderful comedians who deliver some of their routine in song. Except that Victoria plays an instrument that you tickle, Isy one that you strum.

I do not know whether Isy Suttie was first a comedian who later came to music or a musician who later came to comedy perhaps experiencing an epiphany at a Tim Minchin show…but she can sing and play guitar as well as she tells jokes and stories. For her style is stories with humour rather than a rat-a-tat joke machine – more Alan Carr than Jimmy Carr.

She is like a Yorkshire version of Regina Spektor, if Regina had developed the comedy side of her material more – more helpful comparisons like this will follow.

Now I do understand that the BBC description of her show as a funny and moving love story does not tell us very much. Perhaps enough to get your interest up but if not they do also elaborate a bit further advising us it is about

a socially awkward childhood neighbour (her first pen pal) and a ‘well-bred’ girl from Surrey ..

Dave and Pearl respectively. Isy Suttie is neither Dave or Pearl. She is the neighbour of the socially awkward Dave, if no less awkward herself.

Pearl and Dave is a folk-story and Isy Suttie its folk-singer but in the way that Jarvis Cocker or Lily Allen is a folk singer without even a trace smell of heritage left lingering in your nostrils – stories about us common – and not so common – folk but in the here and now – well from the 1980’s onwards anyway.

Isy SuttieThis being when the pen-pal friendship commences – the pen-pal being just one of the many undeserving victims of the Internet – and like another 1980’s phenomena CB Radio (remember that?) it was as much about the simple fact of being able to communicate with people in far off distant lands than any deep interest in the life of your fellow communicator – I was obliged to have one in school, as part of my French lesson, so at this time where even communication in my own language of English was chore enough I had then to communicate with a stranger in a foreign language. And I am quite sure adolescent French teenage boys are not very different to their British counterparts – though perhaps giving in to stereotypes he was already well versed in the language of romance and sneered at my polite and frankly idiotic attempts at even the most basic of French sentences. It did not last long. One opening letter each in fact.

Isy and a friend had both read about pen-pals in the then far-flung land of Australia – well it is still far-flung from Britain Internet or no Internet – and so thought they would give it a go too. Think not message in a bottle, think message in a balloon! The balloon though only makes it as far as the next-garden-but one! To the garden of the titular Dave.

The penned message having landed in the garden of their near neighbour Dave it was then considered by Isy and her friend as fate, that Dave himself should become their pen-pal – adding that the letters they would send Dave required them having to walk past his house to get to the post-box!

Then adding that they were 10 and 6 and Dave was 25 – paedophilia she explained not existing in the 1980’s despite being big in Ancient Greece and only having made a come-back recently!

She then shared some of the letters they wrote to each other in the early 1990’s. The most common question, indeed theme, was asking each other what they had for their tea – but as she notes the common ground between a ten year old and a twenty five year old is a limited one.

Dave has a catch-phrase – ‘C’mon Dave’ – which he addresses himself in the third-person by way of encouragement to himself!

She then moves us on to where Dave first met Pearl – at the family holiday camp Butlins which in her words as kids ‘you either went to get chips or to get felt up. And that they went only for the chips!’

Though Dave and Pearl’s Butlin encounter was a significant one for both they somehow still managed to lose contact with each other thereafter. It is only through the later emergence of the Internet in the mid 1990’s and going online and searching for her that he comes upon her again – first by Friends Reunited – remember that she asks us and I ask you? – another undeserving victim of Facebook!

He used to log-in every morning with his hopes up high and log-out again every evening with his hopes re-crushed!

It will be Facebook indeed where Dave and Pearl will become friends reunited.

All of this has been delivered by Isy Suttie as a spoken monologue. But now comes the first song. Its verses and chorus detailing Dave’s first messages to Pearl on Facebook, testing out its waters, discovering her profile  that she is married and musing on how he should phrase his first message to her. And in respect of Pearl being marital toys with ‘I would like to shoot your chappie’ then rewriting ‘I would like to maim your chappie’ then finally ‘I would like to shake your chappie by the hand, if my hands were made of guns and shards of glass and poison hot-cross buns’!

She then returns to her spoken word – mentioning her own relationship of that time where both of them knew it was doomed but carried on anyway

like an old ill dog that just wanted to go in the corner and die with some semblance of dignity but we kept feeding sugary biscuits to for three and a half years and telling it that it was going to be alright until it finally dragged its rotting carcass into the corner and turned around to us to say ‘later, losers’!

Pearl does reply to Dave and this we hear as the second song of the night. In the song she recalls their first encounter – ‘sharing a cigarette dipped in Amaretto!!!!!!!!!!!!!’ – Pearl’s exclamation marks not Isy’s or mine! – where Suttie then goes off on a tangent riffing on exclamation marks and their binary meaning – they either mean humour or peril – the more there are the more humorous or perilous the writer is being!

In typical Facebook style each of them embellishes their times since they last met – he is an accountant who pretends to be in a rockband – she is an housewife who pretends to be…an accountant! We learn from this song that Pearl is married but unhappily.

Isy Suttie - Twitter image

As seen on Twitter

She then returns to her monologue and a tangent about Isy Suttie’s own mum’s disappointment in her choice of career – a stand-up comedian – ‘how she will never meet a lawyer, lawyer’s don’t go and watch standup (!)’ – and how she suggests to her Mum ‘that maybe she doesn’t want to marry a lawyer’ and how her Mum then replies near-screaming ‘That’s not the plan!’.

And then six months go by without Isy hearing from Dave. She has correctly surmised that he has gone deep into an online relationship with Pearl. He finally advises her of this by Email. This cues the third song ‘The Six Month song’ which details the trajectory of that time from initial Facebook messaging – ‘C’mon Dave’ he says to himself as he girds himself to end his message ‘Love Dave’! through to Email – ‘like moving from smash to mash’ – then to trying to get Skype to work then finally getting Skype to work and seeing each other face to face, then seeing of each other what they really wanted to use Skype for – ‘You’re naked, well done, brilliant!’ Finishing off with Dave plucking up courage to ask Pearl out for a meal.

This song sees her delivering a duet between Dave and Pearl not so much Sonny and Cher but obscurely and perhaps perversely reminding me of ‘Lucky Stars’ but where Isy Suttie is both Dean Friedman and Denise Marsa. I told you there were more unhelpful comparisons to come.

The song ends and she returns to the story though again sharing with us her own relationship status now with a Welsh boyfriend who also speaks Welsh. So setting up the fourth song – in Welsh! – she then switches back into English translating it ‘in case we don’t know what it means’! It went ‘I went, you went, he went, she went, we went, you went (formal!), they went’!

The swansong details Pearl and Dave’s relationship since those early awkward Skype times. They had met up but Pearl could not bring herself to leave her husband for Dave or to cheat on him but they decide to continue their infidelity/relationship online. And have continued ever since. Concluding that in a sense ‘they are in a land where no-one is accountable for their actions, like Ikea!’ but in another sense ‘it is more real than Pearl’s own relationship with her husband’.

Pearl and Dave is a one-off special for radio. Though TV as with the aforementioned Boosh may come calling by way of a TV sitcom series yet.

I am quite sure though we have not heard the last of Isy Suttie. Even for those of you who have yet to have heard the first of her.

The Boosh Tale of Hitcher – and other juicy danglings

Hitcher iPlayerCome with me now on a journey through time and space to the world of The Mighty Boosh

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy

Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy

Noel Fielding is to be appearing on ITV’s The Jonathan Ross Show Saturday January 21st. They will no doubt be chatting about his new comedy show starting on E4 Thursday January 26 Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy which in the words of the E4 website is a:

Psychedelic character-based comedy show half filmed and half animated, with music provided by Kasabian’s Sergio Pizzorno.

Noel Fielding was just one half of The Boosh though, the Vince half, the other half, the Howard half, was played by Julian Barratt and he is absent from this new venture.

This post though is not to pointlessly speculate about this new Luxury Comedy venture rather as per the opening line to journey back in space and time to when the Mighty Boosh was just The Boosh and available only in sound and vivid imagination, its TV dance not yet begun.

Radio was an ideal medium for them as Fielding and Barratt’s combined visual imaginations were too big for TV budgets.

Inevitably as alluded this did not stop them venturing into TV or rather TV come wooing them.

Theirs is a drugged imagination where drugs may not actually be involved. Their British comedy cousins are Eddie Izzard, Bob Mortimer and Vic Reeves and they can trace their comedy ancestry through Monty Python and Spike Milligan all the way back to Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear.

Their night dreams weave in and out of their waking hours, their shadowy imaginings step into the light.

The Mighty Boosh ImageThe episode subject of this post is Hitcher first broadcast back in November 2001 and rebroadcast this month on BBC Radio 4 Extra. The BBC’s iPlayer does not just reprise recent Telly but Radio too and this is how this episode came to my ears. This is the outlands of radio – about ten people listen to Radio Four at any one time, Radio 4 Extra is for those who consider even Radio 4 just too mainstream.

This episode is preambled in just one sentence on the BBC iPlayer page has ‘Howard and Vince takes Tony the Prawn to a zoo for animal offenders’. A description which on one hand does not tell you very much whilst at the same time telling you everything.

The Boosh are difficult to transcribe as their words are better heard than read. With this in mind I will venture vainly forth on just that endeavour.

It starts with Howard and Vince in the midst of their zoo-keeping duties, which translates as Howard’s head buried in a book and being insistently interrupted by Vince – think a child in the car, their constant drip drip to front-seat parents of ‘are we there yet?’ – for example

Howard, you know the black bits in bananas, are they Tarantula’s eggs?!

Howard is reading about ancient Greece – ‘why do you read that old-school rubbish?’ asks Vince! Vince does not have time for reading but has read Charlie Goes Abroad. And Charlie Takes Time Off. ‘Is that part of a Charlie Adventure series?’ Howard asks. ‘Yes’ replies Vince ‘There are hundreds of them – ‘Charlie Buys a Flamingo’, Charlie goes to the shops and realizes he has lost his little purse’ and on! Before Howard wishing an end to Charlie’s adventures suggests ‘Charlie Chokes on His Own Legs’! Howard then explaining that he is only interested in real people like Aeschylus and Pythagoras, people who ‘solved stuff’ – ‘Charlie solved stuff’ counters Vince

Charlie Solved The Riddle. The Riddle of His Own Existence!

One pleasure and relief in listening to this radio broadcast is there is no canned laughter – there is no studio audience laughter either. There is no studio audience. Their budget was just too shoe-string back then. There is laughter though. Between the two of them as they struggle to keep a straight face in response to the increasingly absurd statements each counters the other with. It reminded me of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore except with them there was just one jester Peter Cook with Dudley the corpsing victim, whereas with Vince and Howard both are as much jester as jested.

The Boosh Bob Fossil

Bob Fossil

They are then visited my the manager of Zooniverse and the Zookeeper’s right hand man Bob Fossil who advises them they need to move Tony the Prawn who is a psychological killer to his brother’s zoo – zoo-keeping runs in the family! – the zoo for animal offenders – current inmates include a rapist crab, a mackerel that exposes himself – you do not want to see that from any living creature but especially not a mackerel – a baboon that walks into lifts and presses all the floors, a swan that keys cars…

They need to have Tony the Prawn delivered by four that afternoon. It is in their Jeep on their way that they will first encounter the Hitchhiker, or Hitcher.

Before that pick up though there is an argument about what music to listen to on the radio-tape player – Vince has made a Gary Numan mix-tape but Howard wants to listen to his jazz tape. Not just any old jazz but John Coltrane. He wants Vince to listen out for a particular moment of Sun Ra’s Jet Flight – ‘it’s coming up, ready?’ – except it is always just coming up, never quite getting there. Which is also kind of the point of it too. As Howard muses Jazz cannot be tamed or described ‘Jazz is. Jazz was. Jazz be’!

Full disclosure – I was not familiar with this Sun Ra and John Coltrane collaboration from The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra – rather technology in the form of Shazam told me.

Howard is driving and Vince must keep him awake. ‘Have you ever fallen asleep at the wheel’ Vince asks Howard. ‘No’ says Howard ‘But I have woken up at the wheel’ – Bum bum!

To keep him awake Vince tells Howard stories about how we was brought up in the Jungles of India by Bryan Ferry. He explains how they had to be careful in the jungle when falling a sleep that the monkey’s did not steal their faces. And that he himself one time did fall asleep. And then the story ends abruptly. Howard wants to know what happened next but Vince says that will be for another time. ‘Who are you’ cries Howard ‘dealing out stories in chunks’! Going on to exclaim that ‘You cannot juice me up and then leave me dangling – don’t be a juicy dangler!’ This leads to an argument and Howard asking Vince to leave the car.

The scene temporarily cuts away to Bob Fossil delivering a zookeeper themed stand up comedy routine but which is dying with the crowd – ‘even the hyenas have stopped laughing’ goes one heckle to which he responds

I don’t have any witty verbal comebacks but I do have this herd of Wildebeest over here and a starter pistol. What I call a stampede comeback!

The Boosh - Hitcher by Noel Fielding

The Hitcher

Back to Howard at the wheel and having just picked up the Hitcher. The Hitcher is carrying a box but as Howard tries to strike up conversation with him he remains silent save slow heavy breathing. ‘Let’s listen to the radio’ Howard declares. Cue The Doors Riders on the Storm and Jim Morrison intoning ‘there’s a killer on the road’ then cue Howard quickly switching off said radio and stating there is ‘too much music in the world’!

The Hitcher does eventually speak though – in a vaguely threatening Cockney cadence! – and regales Howard with tales of his working past as a stage performer. This though really does need to be heard – words on a page cannot do this extravagant  monologue justice.

Then Howard’s curiosity about the Hitcher’s box can no longer be contained but on asking about the box he suddenly finds himself in the box!

Later in the box he encounters Vince – for Vince too had met the same fate at the hands of the Hitcher. Eventually they meet the People of the Box. The People of the Box have been trapped in the box for many centuries. They then inform Howard and Vince that it was written that they would come. And save them. And be their king!

Howard is flattered. He knew there was an important purpose to his life. And being a king for the box people must be it. But it turns out they were addressing themselves to Vince!

Vince though does not want this role. It is the way is not it that those who want to be the leader of the box people are fated not to have that role and those that are so fated do not want it.

And sorry readers but I now myself must be a juicy dangler – always assuming I have your juices up! – and leave this tale here. For it concludes in numerous songs that I could not possibly transcribe or do justice to even if I could. The summary should you decide to seek it out is not entirely satisfactory either.

But if you are under the spell of the Boosh then you will realize that the place of arrival like the place of departure is neither here nor there – the journey is all.

The Cannibalistic Councillor – La concejala antropofaga

The Cannibalistic Councillor - La concejala antropofaga

There is nothing more democratic than pleasure

I used to be quite anal about DVD Movie extras – for some enough to watch the film itself, not I. For me I would plough my way through every deleted scene, every interview of cast and crew – from director through lead actors through writers through costumers all the way through to the key-grips – what is a key-grip anyway?! – the box office theatre trailers, and on. Before I realized it was a kind of madness. These extras combined would outlast the length of the film itself – and then some.

Now I am weaned off DVD extras – not to the extent though that I won’t even see what is on offer. Sometimes they will provide an extra that is a work in and of itself. One such DVD was Pedro Almodóvar’s 2009 film Broken Embraces. On it was an eight-minute film ‘The Cannibalistic Councillor’, a short based on one of Broken Embrace’s incidental characters. He had liked the performance of the actor Carmen Machi so much that he decided to develop a new self-contained scene around her.

The Cannibalistic Councillor - table sceneThis short is a cast of three. The main star of Broken Embraces, Penelope Cruz herself, and Marta Aledo being the other two. However since we only see the Cruz character, Pina, briefly, pretty much just to say good-bye  and the Aledo character, Maribel, is seated, head slumped down on the kitchen-table for the majority of the short, it is really all about Machi. And Machi’s performance is a stream-of-consciousness monologue to camera of her character Chon on sex with a bit of politics thrown in. This short is 18 Certificate. The only quote that the IMDB give is the one that starts this post because most of the reason for the 18 Certificate is the film’s language, well leaving aside moments where she is snorting cocaine between bouts of digesting flan!

As said the Aledo character is slumping – we are not quite sure why – this is Almodóvar so she could actually be dead despite the obvious unconcern of Chon. She could also be asleep or passed out drunk or wasted. This gives Chon full-reign to expound her philosophy of sexual and political liberation to we the audience.

I had been looking for a script for this film on the web but could not find one. I am about therefore to include some of the lines and quotes featured. There is no 18 Certificate on the web – yet – but if you are easily offended by sexual language then reader move along now, nothing more to see here!

Chon is a Councillor of Social Affairs – hence half the title. The other half of the title will become all too apparent very shortly.

We have to recognize desire as the main driving force of a better society – when you desire someone you don’t usually wish them harm – unless they reject you that is

So she exclaims. And so far so political. Disappointed? Shame! You won’t have to wait long.

She then goes on to tell us how she plans to take a year’s sabbatical to write a book elaborating on her theories – “a book in which I describe the fantasies I have during council meetings, the opening of parks…opening masses to the Patron Saint of Madrid! On those as on all occasions all I think about is sex!”

I’m only interested in looking at the men’s asses, their feet, their packets

I could have placed an exclamation mark after each of those anatomy parts so described but resisted! Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Shame for you! – but if you are not familiar with the euphemism ‘packets’ – they are due north of the men’s asses – if they are lying down and staring at the sky or ceiling that is!

Going on to explain

that’s why I wear dark glasses, not from photophobia (!) …but to look wherever the fuck I want

She then goes on to explain to us that her interest started young, very young.

‘I started being interested in packets when I was four years old…I could grab them just by raising my hand…like someone picking fruit’ (! – the exclamation marks are always mine and I am having to suppress my use of them too!). Going on to explain that at first she was a great success before the men in her family and circle of friends began to become wary of her ‘unfortunately there was no paedophile and they started to move away as soon as they saw me coming!’ Is that funny? It was one of those moments when I instantly laughed then another voice almost the next instant reprimanded me in chiding tone as if to say ‘Did you just laugh at that?’! Yes I did oh finger-pointing voice in my head! We can laugh at horror and its monsters as well as being appalled and condemnatory of them…she finished by saying

I was marginalized at an early age – it’s very hard to be judged and rejected when you’re only three

…she’s now lost a year too!

But out of asses, packets and feet it is the latter that drive her most crazy – you may know that the Latin for feet is Ped and the Greek for love is Phillia – I am not going to make the obvious pun – Almodóvar does not make it either, perhaps because it does not translate in the Spanish tongue or because it is bad taste or worst that it is a bad pun?! Her love for feet – podophilia actually! – is more than merely smelling, touching, kissing them – she fantasizes about eating them – and hence the second half of the film’s title reveals itself!

She first digresses that the Councillor for Health told her that she prefers ‘big dicks and being hit by one before she puts it in her mouth’ – a sort of eating cock without the cannibalism! She replies to this Councillor that that is the problem with their political party

that we give the image of an old fashioned party rooted in the past – I like having my pharynx fucked too – like everyone!

Her party incidentally being a right wing Conservative party not that that is relevant in anyway other than to explain the following remark of hers that they could ‘win a lot of votes from bored socialists if they were aware that when I am eating dick I like to put – and I am paraphrasing here! – the man’s big toe in my cunt…’ and well let us just say she is only just getting warmed up…and I am not exactly clear why socialists knowing that of conservatives would be more inclined to vote for them either. I guess it humanises them!

She then goes on to explain to the unconscious woman and to us, the by now very conscious audience, (and very likely self-conscious too if we are not watching this alone!) that one of her fantasies is ‘to eat a whole man’ – a man mind not a woman – it must be the taste of those packets!…she shares that she has a a title for her book ‘Pig in the P.A.P’.  – PAP being the acronym for her political party but I must confess that in amongst her full-throated discourse I did not catch what it stood for – somehow I got distracted!

This was the climax of her vocal outpourings as she then toned it down – a tad – with reflections on fidelity and monogamy.

It is at about this point that the hitherto unconscious Maribel lifts her head up off the table – she had been sleeping afterall. The then waken woman reveals that she had been ‘out like a log’ and had a dream, strangely an erotic one at that! – about eating a man! She then expressed aloud that she thought that weird to which Chon replied

I think cannibalism is good for you – you look radiant – despite that print

She was referring to Maribel’s dress!. And so the story ends.

If only Almodóvar would extend this spin off conceit and see Cron’s book published!

The Cannibalistic Councillor - closing credits