As I thought it would be, last night's Life Story was a treat. There were some spectacular shots, some of them, such as one of a star morphing into an animal's eye, absolutely blowing me away. Combined with the soothing, timeless yet authoritative narration of Sir David Attenborough, it was the first part of yet another jewel in the crown of the bbc natural history unit. Mind you, rather than write a full review today, I now think I would prefer to wait until the entire series has aired before launching into my usual gleeful ramblings.
However, the NHU aside, I must say I am fast loosing patience with the beeb, and especially it's news. I used to be something of a fan of it, being instinctively supportive of the way it is funded; but lately it seems to have become a Tory an ukip cheerleader. On this afternoon's news bulletin, it enthused about how the economy was recovering and things were doing so well despite may people across the country being in absolute desperation due to the Tories. It gladly towed the government's line on the money we owe to the EU even though it is part of the rules we signed up for and is by far outweighed by the revenue we get from being part of Europe. And on every one of it's political panel shows like Daily Politics or Question Time, it has either Farage or one of his Neanderthaloid lackeys, despite ukip only having one seat in parliament. Compared with, say, the greens, ukip is being disproportionately represented in the media, and is thus punching far above it's weight. By rights, the bbc and other media corporations should be deriding them as a laughing stock - after all, this 'party' includes members who advocate wife beating and the mandatory abortion of babies with disabilities - but instead they are all dancing to ukip's abhorrent tune. I might have expected this from other channels, but from the bbc, the corporation of Attenborough, Palin and Python, the channel upon which I first saw Star trek and who helped produce the 2012 olympic opening ceremony, the media outlet which I once respected above all others; that is almost too much for me to take. It seems the bbc, too, has lost it's way, and I am horrified at what is happening with our media.
I am really looking forward to watching David Attenborough's new program, Life Story, at nine tonight. It is wonderful to see him still making natural history shows - if anyone deserves the title 'national treasure', Attenborough does. I'll probably detail what I thought of it here tomorrow, although many, including the writer of this somewhat cynical, almost bitter Guardian article are predicting it will be the great man's swan song. Who could blame him if it is, but after over sixty years of fascinating natural history television, it would certainly be a sad farewell.
I don't think I have a choice other than to direct you here. Ukip is attempting to block a group of comedians criticising them from touring. Despite Nigel Farage insisting politicians should ''let people tell their jokes,'' The Stop Ukip Comedy Tour has apparently been inundated with complaints from party supporters targeting venues. The hypocrisy is astounding: the week Ukip releases a singe so racist and offensive it has to be withdrawn, causing them to complain vehemently about pc-driven censorship, they try to prevent people trying to draw attention to the folly of their policies. It would seem they only support freedom of speech if it is ukip speaking.
[Edited 22/10/2014 at 17:08:54 - Added a bit]
A couple of days ago, it was reported in the news that the government is going to try to crack down on internet trolling. They decided that abusing people over the internet would now be made criminal somehow. I was quite shocked when I heard this, as I see it as a very dangerous, unwise move. While I know many of us have encountered trolls and know how offensive they can be, the danger lies in how you define trolling and abuse. Name-calling and insulting are quite straightforward, but what about other forms of criticism? My fear is that this new law will be used to stop people attacking the government, holding them to account.
I know I can be as guilty as anyone of insulting people online, especially tory politician, but I would argue that that rage is a reflection of my frustration with their policies, not them personally. They must be held to account. But what if I or bloggers like me were termed internet trolls and hauled in front of a judge? It would be a great way for the government to prevent themselves being criticised - they would just have to term what write abusive to shut me or anyone like me up. What is certainly true is that I will have to be very careful about what I say online from now on, and that worries me very much indeed,
[Edited 22/10/2014 at 14:23:42 - fixed title]
You may remember my entry describing how I tried to get tickets to see Michael Palin's talk about the latest volume of his diaries, and how I was turned away because they said there was equipment in the wheelchair spaces. I was furious at the time,but shortly after I posted that entry I got an email from the theatre, apologising, explaining that the matter had been resolved and inviting me to buy tickets. That is how, last night, Lyn, I and Dominik got to see one of my all-time favourite people talking eloquently and evocatively about his life on television. As soon as I entered the space, I was taken instantly back to those warm, happy Sunday evenings with my parents when we used to watch his tales of places so far away, yet so tantalising that it made my feet itch with wanderlust. Palin is a man whose work I love; as soon as I heard his voice last night, that warmth and joy flooded back.
Rather appropriately for a talk about travel, I got there a few minutes late having decided to take the bus rather than the tube (a mistake I will not make again!). Fortunately I only missed a little, and when I got there Mr. Palin was already in full swing. (Having taken the overground, Lyn and Dom were already there). He was regaling the enthralled audience with a sequence of short stories from his travels, each accompanied by a picture projected on to a screen at the back of the stage. Unfortunately, I could only see half of that due to where I was sat, but nevermind - it was the man I had come to see. Some of them I knew from his books and tv programmes, while others I was unfamiliar with. He sometimes veered off on tangents, telling, for instance, how it was through an act of theft that Britain overtook brazil in rubber production. Did you know, too that before they asked palin to go around the world in eighty days, they asked noel edmunds. I found it fascinating, like watching some great pioneer tell of his adventures.
The second half of the evening concentrated on palin's earlier life, and monty python. As a python fan, I loved this too, but, forgive me, I won't even try to retell any of his stories. The history of python is long, fascinating and complex, but now I know where 'ni' came from. I found it utterly engrossing. As when I watched Monty Python Live two months ago, I feel so privileged to have been there last night.
Indeed, when I think about it, it astounds me how lucky I am: last night saw one of my all-time favourite people talk, a man whose work I have loved and been inspired by since I was small. Before then, I watched probably the last ever performance of the greatest comedy troupe ever. Possibly most importantly, just three weeks ago, I met and talked to sir Patrick Stewart: thinking about it, given my work on him in my masters and what that scene in First Contact means to me personally, I now think that meeting was one of the most significant, important and special events of my life. I just feel so lucky to have done all this, thanks largely to Lyn; it astounds me when I think about it.
Yet, last night saw probably my last big event of the year: now that Python, Star Trek and Palin have happened, I don't have much more lined up. As Lyn reminded me last night, though, there will always be something more, something to find, something to look forward to.. she is right, of course. What that will be I don't know, but after last night inspired by that fascinating man and his stories of far off places, my wanderlust, my urge to go out into the world and explore, has returned. My feet itch again.
[Edited 21/10/2014 at 13:46:28 - added a link]
[Edited 22/10/2014 at 14:22:24 - added a word]