Saturday, 27 June 2009

Songwriting with The Smiths

For those who are unaware, there was once, and in the hearts of many, still is, a band called The Smiths, who, despite their name, at no point worked in the medium of metal. The band was well-known for Morrissey's unique songwriting, but what is not so well known is the tortuous artistic process behind many of the songs and lyrics that made it onto record. Through the ceaseless research of my super-secret contact, I am now very proud to present an exclusive look into the working titles of some of those cracking tunes.


How Soon Is Next Wednesday?

'How Soon is Now?' began life as a melancholic tale of waiting for a plumber to call to fix a dodgy boiler, with the plaintive slide guitar representing the little whining noise one makes when trying to take a cold shower. Lyrics re-written to avoid offending the lucrative plumbing market, known for their consistent support of jangly '80s guitar bands.


This Wretched Man

'This Charming Man' was originally written about the morning after, and included the chorus lyrics, 'I would go out tonight, but it's Sunday and it's raining and I'm hungover'.


Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others

Actually made it onto the album after it was decided that the original, 'Some Girls Make Me More Miserable Than Others' was deemed to leave the album 'a bit heavy, man'.


Pretty Girls Make Papier-Mâché

A paean to the glory days of Blue Peter, this was re-written as 'Pretty Girls Make Graves' because the primitive printing technologies of the day couldn't get the accents for 'Mâché' correct on the album sleeve.


I Owe You A Pint

Early version of 'I Don't Owe You Anything', born when Johnny Marr mistook a scrawled reminder from Morrissey as a cryptic lyric for a new song.


That Joke Cracks Me Up Every Time You Wit

Became 'That Joke Isn't Funny Any More' after Morrissey realised that in fact, he was heartily fed up with the joke, and rather hoped Marr would stop bloody telling it. The joke's exact words are unknown, but the punch-line is believed to be “Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you said 'bacon'.” On a related point, 'Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before' is named after the last thing Johnny Marr said before Morrissey punched him, causing his departure from the band.


The Queen's Just Stunned, She'll Be Alright in a Minute

The Queen's medical condition worsened considerably between draft and the studio. A proposed closing song entitled 'This is An Ex-Queen' never made it onto the album. Or, curiously, anything else.


There Is A Light That Is On The Blink, Would You Mind Taking A Look At It?

A tragic tale of a short man's inability to change a bulb, this was later changed to '...That Never Goes Out' after Morrissey was enthused by tales of newly developed energy-saving bulbs.


Vicar in Hatutu

This story of failed missionary work on a South Pacific island was almost shelved when it was discovered that only eleven people knew that Hatutu was a real place. A fortunate likeness of sound saved the song from the cutting-room floor, and 'Vicar In A Tutu' survived to kick-start a sadly brief fashion in the Church of England, an achievement fortunately not replicated by Mansun's 1996 single 'Stripper Vicar'.


I Know It's LBW

One of the best-known songs about cricket, this was altered to 'I Know It's Over' purely to help the scansion, although the change has led to some thinking that it has something to do with sex. People are strange, huh? Another frequently misinterpreted track is 'I Started Something I Couldn't Finish', which is, of course, about a particularly large ice-cream sundae.


Last Night I Dreamt That I Was Being Chased By Robert Smith, And When I Woke Up There Was Hair-Spray On My Pillow

The epic centrepiece to Strangeways Here We Come, 'Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me' was originally a stream-of-consciousness narrative detailing Morrissey's anxieties about the state of grumpy British music, but was eventually transformed into a dour meditation on love and loss. The two-minute intro of chaotic shouting is the only known recording of the notorious fight between The Smiths and The Cure.


Sadly, there are no visual recordings of the brawl, but a passing sound engineer described it as 'basically like that gang battle in A Clockwork Orange.' The feud began when Robert Smith accused The Smiths, en masse, of stealing his name. In response, Morrissey insisted that there could only be one enduringly popular British band from the 1980s beginning with 'The'*, but was quite willing to refer to Smith's group as 'Panacea'**, whereupon Porl Thompson nutted him. Smith was going to, but didn't want to ruin his hair. The ominous piano that plays over these sounds of conflict is in fact part of the same recording, since Johnny Marr was too wrapped up in his instrumental to realise that there were fisticuffs breaking out all around him.



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* And you wonder why The Stone Roses broke up?


** Since used as a name by a Swedish doom metal covers band who misread their dictionary.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Spies on a shoestring

With last weekend's update not being massively exciting, I thought I'd post the Spooks deleted scene from a while ago.


Disclaimer one: this was written before every news article in the world began with the phrase 'In the current economic climate', and I'm entirely aware that by now nobody sane can be bothered to read anything more about how, for reasons that can only be explained through eldritch accounting terminology or mind-numbing cliches, money has broken.

Disclaimer two: this was written while the last series of Spooks was still going, so you'll have to imagine it being attractively topical. I also apologise for my hopelessly inaccurate judgment of a certain character, in the light of all the nastiness from the end of the last series.


Anyway.


(MI5 Headquarters, ground floor meeting room. Harry Pierce, head of section, stands at the end of the table, waiting. Ros Myers enters, chewing a lemon.)


Harry: Thank you for coming, Ros. I'm afraid I have some bad news.


Ros: Is it...


H: No. Nobody has been blown up, shot, drowned, burnt to death, strangled, tortured or gone off the rails. It's rather less fatal than that. I've just been to see the Home Secretary, and I'm afraid there are going to have to be some cut-backs. We've talked through a restructuring plan, and everything's going to be fine.


R: Damn it, Harry, the safety of millions of people is at stake!


H: Let me speak, Ros. The Home Secretary and I have talked this through, and I'm afraid we're going to have to let you go.


R: This is ridiculous, Harry. We're overstretched as it is. Last week Lucas had to take on some of Jo's Anguished Flashbacks, and last series Malcolm had to step in as Action Sidekick.


H: It's been decided, Ros. There's nothing I can do.


R: I'm the head of Section, Harry. You need me.


H: Don't make this harder than it has to be, Ros. You've already spent several weeks being dead, and nobody minded then. Lucas is going to take over your work Looking Stern and Killing People Who Deserve It.


R: He's not ready!


H: Not yet, perhaps, but he will be soon. In the meantime, I'm taking on some some Scum Murdering, and we're promoting Ben to probational Having a Six-Pack to give Lucas more time for his other work.


R: But Ben's Token Middle Eastern Guy! That's a full-time position, and you know it.


H: We're not asking much more from him. I'm confident in his abilities.


R: What about Hard-Nosed Bitch? You've got nobody else who can do that.


H: We intend to share that between Jo and Connie.


R: Jo's way too troubled, and you know it. And how are you going to fit that into Connie's remit? She's bland, old and nice through and through.


H: Age has its advantages. The writers are considering a personality-altering stroke.


R: Sheer desperation. It'll never work. Why not cut her entirely? You'll never slot her into Slightly Unconvincing Love Interest.


H: She's Token Old Person, Ros. We need her. She does Non-Sexual Sympathy like nobody else. Besides, what if there's a resurgence of cold war plot lines? She has Russian knowledge, and we might need that soon. Jo has been training for Slightly Unconvincing Love Interest for some time.


R: She's useless, Harry. She's clearly going to move from Worried and Vulnerable into full-scale Losing It, and that's not profitable in the current climate.


H: It's not up to you to say what's profitable, Ros.


R: Damn it, Harry, the safety of millions of people is at stake!


H: Yes, Ros, we're aware of that.


R: [Desperately] Malcolm! Dump the wet, mumbling nerd.


H: Ros, you know that's madness. He's the only one with a personality that doesn't depend on staring into the middle distance. Besides, it's hard to find a Likeable Geek who can deal with British accents.


R: Damn it, Harry, the safety of millions of people is at stake!


H: I know you're upset, Ros, but it’s not just you that’s being affected by this. We’ve relocated Lucas’ safehouse from Hampstead to Stockwell. Malcolm’s been moved over from Mac to PC, and you may have noticed that the projector in this meeting room has in fact been replaced by a blackboard. Also, before you become too distraught, I must say that we have lined something up for you. Have you ever fancied yourself in a different time?


R: [Brightening] Not...


H: Yes, Ros...


R: [Excited] You're transferring me to Doctor Who?


H: Er, no, sorry. What about a classic car, eh? Ever grow a bit bored with our generic black saloons? Fancied something with a bit more colour?


R: [Still quite excited] You can swing me Life on Mars?


H: [Giving up on trying to interest her] It's Heartbeat, Ros. The Oop North (Rustic Division) have called. They need a new bad-tempered feminist detective.


R: Damn it, Harry! I’m not a period-piece feminist, I’m a Hard-Nosed Bitch. I wear trouser suits. You know what? You can’t make me do this. I quit. [Hurls badge on desk.]


H: You’re a natural. I’ll tell them you’ll take the job.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Two-thirty, the dentist's hour


On the whole I think dentistry is a dashed good thing. I am glad there are strange people willing to poke about in our mouths in exchange for little more than a feeling of absolute power and a sizeable property empire. It’s one of those areas where it’s hard to be nostalgic. The very crustiest of fogies sit, encased in their gentlemen’s clubs (no ‘members’ clubs’ for these old oafs – we’re talking about the kind of ancient who isn’t entirely sure women ought to exist, let alone be allowed into exclusive establishments), and in exchange for a pint of modest-quality gin will rant about the horrors of modern inventions like moveable type, steam engines and democracy. Yet even these decaying, hate-fuelled creatures are quite fond of modern dentistry. For a start, it’s quite hard to complain vociferously when your mouth contains little more than enamelled shrapnel.

Perhaps I am too harsh on mouthwork’s manky past. For the wealthy, there were alternatives to a face full of grit and bone. You could have some artifical gnashers constructed from coal and asbestos. For a few bob more you could have the real thing torn from the face of a loyal servant or defeated foe, and then shoved into your own necrotic gob. You could have an elephant slaughtered especially, and some shiny new incisors carved from its tusks. Or, of course, for the true decadent for whom any minute away from the opium pipe is a minute wasted, you could simply train an obedient houseboy to do all your chewing for you, then pipe the resulting meat gruel directly into your own bloated belly, washing it down with several gallons of port.

See, the old days weren’t so bad. However, we now have shimmering surgeries that look like images of heaven from 1920s films. There are neutrally decorated waiting rooms that are between them solely responsible for keeping Readers’ Digest in business. Here musak tinkles in between softly spoken adverts for increasingly nuclear forms of tooth-whitening.

Compare these cool, Scandinavia-on-a-strict-design-budget vistas of peace and glass-topped tables to Gps’ waiting rooms. These are an infernal combination of creche, retirement home and consumptives’ sanatorium, where you all wait for weeks for five minutes of time with an overworked doctor permitted only three answers: “Ask somebody else”, “Hope it goes away,” and “Take these mysterious pills”.

However, there is a consolation: doctors rarely see fit to surround you with pictures of the terrible things that could happen if you don’t visit them regularly. Dentists, on the other hand, are quite happy to pack their realms with posters of gum disease, murals of misaligned molars, and hideous images of cheap, broken fillings. It’s all very unsettling – a bit like visiting the DVLA and finding yourself surrounded by sculptures of car crashes.

There’s a good reason why doctors don’t do this: decorating the place with pictures of dead ‘flu victims and people who’ve turned into giant rashes is considered slightly bad form. Also, a doctor without a giant queue is a happy doctor. Very rare, in other words. A dentist in a similar situation, however, is pretty swiftly going to find themselves out on the High Street with a cardboard sign saying ‘will cap teeth for food’.

Bad teeth are good business, and the worse we think our teeth are, the better that business gets. True, as a nation we ought to spend a bit more time having our teeth examined, but that’s not enough to excuse handing new patients a ‘smile assessment form’, as my local did when I signed up. The form was packed with leading questions designed solely to make me question my self-worth enough to sign up to heinously expensive and entirely unnecessary cosmetic procedures. “Are you satisfied with the shape of your teeth?” It asked, only barely suppressing the subtext: “Really? Are you sure? Justify yourself, scum. Yeah, you really think they’re good? What about their positioning, angulation, colour, length? Listen up. Your mouth is a miasmatic pit of menace, and nobody will ever love you. Unless...”

It did surprise me to learn that everything wrong with my life is a direct result of my dreadful teeth, and that it can all be solved by a simple, regular application of money. I’m glad the answer is so simple. Now all I need is an attractively illustrated pamphlet explaining how to get hold of enough cash to afford any of these life-changing procedures.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

X Cathedra


The Roman Catholic Church has had a hard time of it recently, and when I say recently I mean since 1517 (and this isn't the 1517 that happens about an hour and a half after lunch). In recent years the death of dear old JPII was a bit of a blow. The latest Pope-switch was basically the equivalent of taking James May off Top Gear and replacing him with Fred West. JP was a cuddly, progressive, goalkeeper in a comedy car, who was widely rumoured to be appearing as Father Brown in a forthcoming ITV crime drama. This new chap, when it comes down to it, is scary. Some jazzy red shoes and a bewildering love of cats (any owner of a fuzzy beastie will tell you that white vestments don't go well with the moulting season) can do little against the great PR barrier that sits on his forehead. He is a one-man argument for male eyebrow plucking. Maybe he should start a comedy duo with Alistair Darling?

Following swiftly on from this awkward replacement came the Da Vinci Code. Dan Brown received the Usborne Bumper Book of Conspiracy Theories for his eleventh birthday, and has been working his way through it ever since. This is great news if you're a paranoid loon who lives in a bunker, but rather less inspiring if you prefer multi-page chapters, sentences that stretch a bit and plots that weren't already the subject of jokes twenty-five years ago (see Foucault's Pendulum). It's also bad news if you're the Church of Rome (which I appreciate you probably aren't), because it's had to suffer not only the books but also two whole motion pictures of Tom 'Matt Damon's Dad' Hanks crashing about ecclesiastical sets breaking floor tiles, setting things on fire and being portentous.


Now, however, the tables are set to change. My super-secret contact has picked up some exciting news from movie-world (and I don't mean the shabby rental shop in Hammersmith): the church of Rome is getting behind the camera! Already in the early stages of production, this all-action spectacular is expected to be the big blockbuster of 2011.


Tentatively titled X Cathedra (other mooted possibilities included The Empire Strikes Back, The Godfather, and The Bible Code, but it was eventually decided that the Vatican must render unto Caesar what is due unto Caesar's arcane collection of intellectual property laws), this is the tale of one divinely appointed representative of God on earth's mission to save the world from an evil conspiracy hatched by a sinister conglomerate of condom manufacturers, biologists, thriller writers, and Jews. With nobody left to trust, the Pope is forced to take the law of God into his own hands.




There are already a host of big names on board, among which Mel Gibson features prominently, repeatedly and nauseatingly. However, the real news on the casting front is the first cinematic appearance of Pope Benedict XVI (credited as Joey R) himself. If previews are anything to go by, it's unlikely to be his last big-screen role.


Directed by John Woo, this shows the holy pontiff as you've never seen him before. An interview with a wildly over-enthusiastic Mel Gibson, slated for the DVD extras, contains a few clues about what we can expect:


'I thought I'd been in some pretty cool shit, but you ain't seen cool until you've seen the Pope kick someone in the head. We're putting the mental in sacramental. We're going to do for Catholicism what Battlefield Earth did for Scientology.'


Joseph Ratzinger himself is understandably reticent, but producers the Wachowski Brothers have nothing but praise for his talents. In an interview snippet acquired by my contact, Andy Wachowski says:


'I've never seen anything like it. He is like totally convincing on screen. He's spent literally years preparing for the role of a paranoid, prejudiced man of the cloth out of touch with the modern world.'


His brother Larry adds:


'And on top of that, he did all his own stunts. Joey is an awesome dude.'


Excitingly, my super-secret contact also managed to acquire a couple of rather shabby, grainy pre-production images. Excuse the picture quality – you know wat they’re always saying about these devious film pirates and their poor-quality recording equipment.





Thursday, 11 June 2009

Brief Encounter: Extended Edition

In honour of the coming of Railnarok this week, I thought it a suitable time to put up a scrap of script from long ago that never quite made it to the 'blog until now.

*

My super-secret contact was taking a trip through the hidden catacombs of a film production company and uncovered an exceedingly early alternative ending for Brief Encounter. This would have been on the DVD release, but unfortunately they didn't have DVDs in 1945, so it's been languishing in a lost chamber far beneath the earth for more than sixty years.

To put this extract in context, it was written before the actual script of Brief Encounter was put together. As you will see, aside from plot, characters, dialogue and everything else, the most important change that was made between this and the finished version was the changing of the male lead's name to Alec. As should be obvious, Alec is a name which immediately signifies manners, breeding, charm and wit. Also distant Scottishness, which I'm not going to apologise for putting on the list of obvious virtues. Aside from Brief Encounter, other notable Alecs include two actors, a slightly terrifying German musician, and the villain from Goldeneye. To me, that reads like a list of everything any man could ever hope to achieve.

Right. The script. This was slated to be the final scene, before a mysterious briefcase full of cash arrived from British Rail. Apparently they'd found it in lost property...


Harold Grant: "Oh Margaret [women in old films with bobbed hair and
large coats are always called Margaret. It was decreed in that law
about 'good taste and decency'] dear, I do love you, but now I must
go."

Margaret Goodwinson: "Oh Harold!"

H: "I am so sorry, my dear. It is my duty."

M: "I'll never forget you, Harold!"

(They wait. Harold approaches the stationmaster, a small, aggressive
man watching the couple disdainfully while chewing gum and tapping his
foot impatiently. There is a litter claw and a bin bag on the platform
next to him.)

H: "Excuse me, my good fellow, have you any idea if there'll be a
train to Far Away along shortly?"

(The stationmaster shrugs. Margaret approaches.)

M: "It's just that we don't have a great deal of script left, and we
can't spend more than nine seconds kissing or we'll be arrested."

Stationmaster: "Signal failures. Might be an hour or so."

M, melodramatically disappointed: "Oh, how dreadful."

(The director calls out from behind the camera: "Improvise!")

H, aghast: "For an hour? Listen, old chap, you might be wearing a
berée, but I'm a matinée idol. I am dashing and chipper, and I put
accents on my words in the appropriate places. I don't improvise."

M: "And I'm a 1930s lady. I'm not allowed to think for myself."

(A sigh from behind the camera. Time lapse shot of clock hands
spinning. A train arrives.)

M: "Oh Harold, it's so awful that you must leave."

H: "Oh Margaret, I'm still so sorry, although my expression of longing is
distempered by anger at having to stand here for an hour."

(He boards the train and goes to his seat. Margaret stays where she is, waiting.)

M, to Stationmaster: Sorry to bother you, sir, but do you know if the
train will be on its way soon? Only, I have to run alongside it
fluttering this handkerchief while Harold watches me nobly and
mournfully from the window. I do so hope my asking isn't a bother.

S: Should be on its way soon, love.

M: Oh, thank you ever so much. (An afterthought.) Oh, and please don't
call me love, or my father will send round some burly men to box your
ears.

(S chews gum noisily)

(M sighs, hitches her skirts and dashes to Harold's window. He
scrabbles at it for a while before giving up and going back to the
door.)

H: I'm so sorry my dear, there's been a further delay for an
unspecified reason but an excuse has been requested and should be with
us shortly.

M: Oh Harold, I'm so glad you could stay with me for a few moments longer.

H: Oh wait, an announcement.

(H rushes back inside the train to listen. M re-positions herself for
running-alongside-waving-a-hanky-and-maybe-weeping-a-bit. H manages to
open the window this time, by about four centimetres at the top. He
tries to adopt a noble expression, and manages thoughtfully
disgruntled instead. It's good enough. The director yells 'action'. M
runs towards the window as H stands beside it calling to her. The
train doesn't seem to be moving much. M reaches the window and blows
her nose noisily.)

M: Oh, darling, why must you go?

(H tries to say something but his voice is drowned by four teenagers
wandering past with a mobile telephone playing a tinny rendition of a
work by a popular urban rhythmic poet.)

M: What is it, dearest?

(H finally makes himself heard.)

H: I've got to take a replacement bus service.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Poetry season

This week saw Britain's most exciting democratic event of the year: the start of Big Brother. I hear might have been some stuff about Europe, too. Like Orwell's Big Brother, Channel Four's monstrosity is now an omnipresent force for oppression. There is simply no way to escape it. Even more disturbingly, nobody can remember life before it appeared, and a worrying number of depraved individuals have somehow learned to love it. Fortunately, being thoroughly on the beat of popular culture and down with the kids and all that, I am not going to speak of Big Brother (or of that Europe business), but of the real, big news of the week. The stuff everyone's talking about: BBC Poetry Season.


For me this has so far involved watching two BBC4 documentaries about retro poetry. The first of these taught me the true meaning of television. It turns out that it is not for watching films five years after they come out and being glad you didn't pay to see them in the cinema, nor about watching people pretend to murder one another on ITV, nor even, and it pains me to say this, about watching a nine-hundred-year-old time traveller struggling with emotional repression (apparently they have public school on Gallifrey). No. As Simon Armitage's amazing documentary about Gawain and the Green Knight shows, television is about watching an enormous side-burned farmer breaking a deer's back with his bare hands, soundtracked by PJ Harvey screaming about fertility symbols. I was left in so much shock that I just used the word 'soundtrack' as a verb. Take that, English language.


Television is also about Simon Armitage, who proves to be an eminently pleasant, dryly witty chap, saying things like 'and the magic rock is where we have arranged to meet Chris, a local pagan'. I was hoping for slightly more charming eccentricity from Chris the Pagan, and possibly a ritual sacrifice, but it turns out that the chief accoutrements of hardcore modern paganism are a natty hat and a pierced ear. While disappointed by the lack of a giant wicker Camelot, I acknowledge that flaming effigies are few and far between these days. As the great philosopher Henry Crun often said: 'You can't get the wood, you know.'


Basically, the documentary featured Simon Armitage retracing the footsteps of Gawain, looking mournfully at blasted industrial landscapes, trying to use a fourteenth century poem as a tourist guidebook, and finding patches of wilderness populated by strange shirtless farmers who speak entirely in different forms of mumbling. If they'd been further south, I'd have expected them to start muttering about mollocking.


As well as being a great film about a great poem, it also managed a notably rock and roll soundtrack, even if they did break the iron laws of mix-tapes by including two Mercury Rev songs. This approach is ace, and was presumably a result of realising how much budget they had left after spending about twenty pounds on the rest, which can be itemised as:


  • One northern poet with cagoule.

  • One film student with slightly wobbly camera.

  • Several train tickets.

  • Several dead animals.

  • Bag of sweets for tempting reticent locals in front of the camera.


Taking a slightly different approach from Mr Armitage and his slightly nervous enthusiasm was Michael Wood, who bounced around historical sites and sights, chattering about Beowulf. He spends his hour grinning, nodding, and wearing a striking collection of long scarves that he won from Tom Baker in a bet in 1971*. His excitement is so constant that I imagine him thinking not just 'Blimey, I'm in Seamus Heaney's living room', or 'Lawks, it's the original manuscript of Beowulf', but also 'Amazing! Pungent marshland!' and 'Wow! A tree!'


He is like the universally adored schoolteacher who continues to expound delightedly about the Anglo Saxons, entirely unaware of the three-quarters of the class who are brawling and chucking things at one another, or the remaining quarter who are too hung over to fight or throw things. Primary school isn't what it used to be.


At one point Wood teams up with a more doughy but equally loveable fellow called Sam Newton, who has the same hat as Chris the Pagan from the Gawain documentary. They drive and walk around together for a while, throwing historical facts about and grinning at one another in the silent conspiracy of people who are at last going to be put on television for knowing weird and interesting stuff about things that happened a very long time ago. I want them to have their own series in which they wander around the country solving historical mysteries, chatting up owners and housekeepers of old country estates, being entirely oblivious to all the sexual tension, then driving off together in a 2CV while chateline and servant gaze longingly after them from the windows of their Midlands mansion. It would be a cross between The Remains of the Day and Starsky and Hutch.


Anyway, after all this, the filmmakers ended up with about twenty-five minutes of Michael Wood being chirpy, and about twenty more of arty camerawork, which usually seemed to consist of standing really close to a leafless branch, moving in and out of focus, then bleaching all the colours out. It occasionally felt like the Blair Witch Project, but better, because watching it didn't make you long for a weird beastie to come along and slaughter all the main characters. With fifteen minutes left to fill, the Beeb did what any right-thinking person would do: film Julian Glover ranting, hamming, shouting and becoming increasingly drunk, in front of an audience who, between them, haven't had a haircut since 1982.


These weren't a collection of hirsute extras who'd been shoved into some helmets: these people were in it for the love. They were enthusiasts who had built their own Anglo Saxon mead hall, acquired a collection of beards and hats that would put the Cambridge Folk Festival to shame, and then installed Julian Glover as a juke-box: fill him with mead, and he'll recite Beowulf, with all the hand gestures. It was deeply mad, but utterly brilliant. And that, pretty much, is what television should be.


-

* About whose guest voicing of the Shipping Forecast would cause more impressionable young ladies to swoon beside their radios. Sadly, either historty neglected to record the results, or it was a nil-all draw, but Tom Baker did cause a small fishing vessel to ground itself on the isle of Skye after announcing that the mainland had been taken over by Cybermen.