Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Beiderbecke Affair by Alan Plater (Mandarin 1985)

The Adult Education Institute was built in the nineteenth century by a paternalistic mill-owner with the stated aim of bringing a spiritual uplift to the artisans of the area. A hundred years later, it still had not succeeded. The building, designed in the Gothic Inspirational manner, was now a hive of small rooms in which groups of predominately earnest people discussed D. H. Lawrence, watched The Battleship Potemkin or threw pots. It was not unusual for six people to be plotting revolution in Room 5, while across the corridor in Room 6, another six people were plotting counter-revolution. All twelve would meet in The Bells afterwards for a pint.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Another soul-sucking year on Facebook

In what has now become an annual tradition on the blog, My 2014 Year in Status from Facebook:

Football, kids driving me up the wall and strange dreams which make me seem more interesting than I actually am. That sounds about right.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Game of Two Halves: The Autobiography by Archie Macpherson (Black & White Publishing 2009)

Argentina, 1978, was wounding and stimulating at the same time. To watch a cheerful, personable, approachable guy undergoing an ordeal of which only a Torquemada would have approved was deeply unsettling. I had felt a personal stirring of unease, many months before, when I assisted him in a brewery-sponsored tour of the country to cities and towns, as he bathed in the glow of admiration which came from his ecstatic nation. I felt that if it didn't come off for him, the fall from grace would finish him. Failure, set against optimistic hysteria, could only mean a death warrant. When I watched him cuddle a dog on a hillside in Alta Gracia, the town we were all based in, after the defeat in the first game by Peru, 3-1, and heard him tell us that the animal was probably the only friend he had left in South America, you  could tell he was slipping into self-perpetuating misery. After the game against Iran, who we assumed were the Glenbuck Cherrypickers of the tournament  but which ended in a 1-1 draw, my colleagues in BBC television in London deliberately and maliciously edited pieces together with close-ups of Ally's contorted, tortured face on the bench which were the closest television has ever got to portraying Edvard Munch's The Scream, in a sporting setting, there really was no way back.

The win against the ultimate finalists, Holland, in Mendoza, 3-2, but which meant nothing in terms of qualification, was summed up beautifully from underneath a wide-brimmed hat in an airport lounge by a pissed-off looking Alan Sharp, the Scottish novelist, who had interrupted his screenwriting business in Hollywood to travel to the game, when he pronounced, 'We didn't win, we just discovered a new way of losing.'