Funny Thoughts

What do I find funny? Vic Reeves, not Stewart Lee. Jennifer Saunders, not Miranda Hart. I like comedians who aren’t afraid of looking stupid and who don’t look stupid. I’m not fond of clever comedians because they are rarely clever enough to make me either laugh or think (Stewart Lee, Stephen Fry) and I don’t much like irony. I like dry wit or straightforward foolishness, both of which rely on timing and things musicians also know about … something to do with harmony, dissonance and repetition. This isn’t at all a funny post: it’s rather serious. Why am I writing it? That’s something to do with something else I find funny, I imagine … the thought that somehow my mentioning these things in public will make any difference to the world at all, and perhaps lead to there being less Lee and more Reeves, possibly; some kind of butterfly effect beginning on a sofa in Canterbury on a Saturday morning (I wondered what those butterfly lights we bought a few weeks ago would lead to) and ending in another series of House of Fools. l love stupid fantasies played out boldly (Harry Worth). This may be related to me deciding to get a Twitter account, or it might be because Stephen Fry doesn’t have one any more. Continue reading

Thinking of Poland, Thinking of Europe

I remember a number of years ago being told that Poland and other former Soviet-controlled countries joining the EU would mean a shift away from federalism. On the face of it that hasn’t happened; and, talking of faces, I’m becoming used to seeing the Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo’s feature more and more often among the photographs of diplomats and leaders at critical EU summits.
     Whatever happens over the coming weeks I’ll be thinking about Polish influence in Europe more than Polish workers in the UK (the more the better); and Polish politics, and Polish history. For most of the last two hundred years Poland has struggled to assert its own borders (no coincidence that Poles are rarely slow to assert themselves). I’ll be thinking about what an EU shaped by Poland might be like. Has Poland, for example, still got unfinished business with Russia?

Narrowness

There’s a narrowness to life which can be exhausting. Perhaps, when life feels narrow, there are more opportunities to feel resentful, disagreements like pinball; maybe it’s the effect of being like a rat running the length of a drainpipe to get a breath of fresh air.
     What makes life narrow? People saying it’s a choice without recognising the throttling effect of their own boney hands.
     I don’t know what I can say about resisting narrowness apart from to make a point of noticing it. Control only really works when its barely perceptible (the reaction formation, perhaps), and noticing control interferes with it. Life can expand when you play about with control: so be creative.
     Choose your games amusingly. You’ll feel less tired.

Jacques Rivette

I watched so many films, up late surviving some interminable rubbish on Channel Four and sometimes BBC2 … and I was sixteen or seventeen. This was when? 1982 or 1983 and I knew what I was looking for. It was a secret I’d heard about in certain music, snippets of Bowie and Chopin, and I’d seen in TV programs for as long as I could remember (The Herbs, a children’s programme), and in paintings such as Turner’s, Van Gogh’s and Seurat’s. Occasionally there had been films, although I couldn’t remember their names. It was mostly, I should point out, something I’d found in the suburban parks scattered around where I lived – a kind of gargoyle quality that left me dizzy like when I saw a couple of punks kissing in a Victorian pavilion with bits of its roof flapping off. Continue reading