An idea in the park

While out on my daily stroll today I had a bit of an idea which I think I’ll note here. I was going around Avery Hill Park, where there’s a small, outlying campus of Greenwich University. It kind of reminded me of Alsager, which made me wonder whether they had a film or media faculty there. These days, living in Eltham with a university so close, could it be worth getting back into research?

For a moment I had visions of me reviving my undergrad days, but that would just be silly. It might be worth getting in touch with the Media Faculty at Greenwich, though, showing them my Master’s thesis, and asking what they think. I don’t necessarily mean doing a PhD – not yet anyway – but perhaps I could work with them, like I sometimes do at Charlton Park Academy. Perhaps I could do something creative or constructive with them. They may be able to use a disabled blogger, writer and filmmaker with a Masters in film studies.

I think it’s worth investigating anyway. Of course, these days I can’t see anything like that happening any time soon, but now I’m a bachelor living more or less on my own, the idea of getting back into film studies and academia in general kind of appeals. At least, it could give my life the bit of structure I currently find it lacks. I’m therefore now contemplating sending them a copy of my MA thesis with a covering letter and seeing what happens – you never know.

A Northern Republic?

I might now call the mighty metropolis that is London my home, but I still definitely have roots in the north, so I was quite perplexed to read this news earlier. “A banner with the defiant message ‘Northern Republic Now’ has appeared above the road in south Manchester…Photos of the bridge earlier in the day also showed a second part to the sign, which read ‘End London Rule.'” Obviously, this sign was probably made in jest, but I suspect it hints at serious and growing social tensions: people in the North of England are starting to feel really left behind by an increasingly London-centric economy and society. For me it also raises a few interesting questions: what would such a ‘northern republic look like? Where would it’s capital be? Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle? Where would it’s borders be, and how far south does The North actually extend? More to the point, how popular is this idea in reality, and how popular could it become? If the Tories proceed the way they are going, and the perceived social and economic divisions between The North and The South, particularly London, are opened up even further, might an idea which is just a few words on a banner at the moment actually start gaining traction? In this era of Brexit, Trump and Coronavirus, to be honest I wouldn’t rule it out.

On missing an occasional entry

You may have noticed that I didn’t post an entry on here yesterday, for the first time in a couple of weeks. I take pride in keeping my blog updated, and get sort of fretful whenever I miss a day. That is rather silly, of course: it’s sometimes difficult to find something to write about on here every single day, and forcing myself to do so just leads to blogging for the sake of it. Besides, I posted every day in 2016 and 2017, an achievement I’m still quite proud of, and I still hope my brother Luke will one day upload my pre-2018 weblog archive so I can prove it (although he is quite a busy fellow these days, and there are about fifteen years of entries.) It makes me wonder, though: Does anyone know of any other personal blogs which have been updated at least every second day since around 2004, give or take the occasional break for holidays? I would be surprised if there were that many other bloggers who have posted so regularly for so long.

Chair choice

Now that I have a second backpack (thankyou Serkan) it seems I have two practically identical powerchairs. Both are fully charged and in good working order. I’m about to go out for my daily dose of fresh air, so the question I find myself mulling is, which chair should I take out? I’m seriously considering flipping a coin or doing ”eany meany miney moe” every day, but it may just be easier to alternate them, so they get equal use.

Best pub name ever

While I haven’t gone up to the North West in ages and frankly can’t see myself going up there any time soon, I now definitely want to visit the pub mentioned here. “A Merseyside pub has been cheekily renamed in an act of defiance towards the Government’s new lockdown restrictions in the area. The James Atherton in New Brighton, the Wirral, has renamed itself “The Three Bellends” – with a sign featuring the faces of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his close adviser Dominic Cummings and Health Secretary Matt Hancock. The sign appears as pubs were forced to close in the Liverpool area on Wednesday as part of the Government’s new three-tier system of coronavirus restrictions for England.”

You really have to take your hat off to the Merseyside sense of humour, although it’s probably also a sign of how frustrated and angry people are getting across the country. The pandemic has been woefully mismanaged, and people’s fury is rightly being directed to the idiots in charge. The pub’s landlord says he’ll change the name back once the current situation is over, but I really hope I have a chance to go and have a drink there, perhaps with Charlie, while it still has it’s current name.

Storyville – documentary or drama?

I came across something last night which had me quite puzzled. It was a double episode of Storyville on the BBC about north Korea. While it claimed to be a documentary, watching it, it felt more like some kind of scripted, directed drama pretending to be a documentary. It was supposedly about a spy who was planted as a ‘mole’ in the Korean Friendship Association, a group trying to change perceptions of North Korea, in an attempt to gain access to the secretive state. While it was very interesting, to my eyes, something about it didn’t make sense. It was supposed to be shot entirely on hidden camera, and while many of the shots seemed that way, some of them were straight out of standard television dramas. There was no way the film’s makers could have got those shots through entirely hidden footage. And then we have the problem that some of the scenes we were shown seemed too convenient; we were privy to conversations which were too unlikely, yet too central to the plot, to have been captured purely through chance. Thus something about this film didn’t ring true, and I couldn’t quite make out whether I was watching a documentary or drama. Of course, answering these questions would mean rewatching and analysing the program shot by shot, but given that the subject of the program is currently so critical to geopolitics, for the BBC to air such an ambiguous film in the first place strikes me as very puzzling indeed.

Travels Of A Lifetime

I’m still a huge Michael Palin fan, and watching Travels Of A Lifetime these last two Sunday nights has been wonderful. It was through Palin’s travelogues that I was introduced to Monty Python. Something about this calm, pleasant, intelligent Englishman explore the more exotic parts of the world of a Sunday evening really captured my imagination: not only did it make my feet itch and want to see what Palin was showing us for myself, but it also made me curious about what else he had done. Hence I was introduced to, and fell in love with, dead parrots and transvestite lumberjacks.

Those shows were first broadcast in the early Nineties, when I was eight or nine and still at school. I remember them giving me a warm, cozy yet reassuring feeling, like when my Dad or Mum were reading a bedtime story, but tinged with curiosity and wonder. They told me that the world was out there to be explored, with great cities to see and adventures to be had; but whatever might happen, there will always be friendly people, good food and a warm bed at the end of the day. Binge-Watching Pole To Pole just now, I felt precisely the same coziness; but I now view it through adult, educated eyes. In Episode Two, for example, Palin visits St. Petersburg and shows us the Winter Palace. My mind immediately went back to AS History and what I learned of the Russian Revolution, which gave what Palin was saying far greater depth. This might be homely Sunday evening TV, but there is a depth and profundity underlying it. After all, we’re being shown parts of the world most of us would never normally see.

No wonder the beeb is screening a four part retrospective of Palin’s work in the same time slot that his shows originally aired; right now, I daresay it’s what most of us need. It’s great to see these programs recognised as the pioneering TV they were, and also to hear people like Joanna Lumley and Ade Adepitan noting what an impact Palin’s travelogues had on their later shows. Added to that, the input of the greatest broadcaster ever, Sir David Attenborough, make this fantastic Sunday night telly.

I must note, though, that Michael Portillo has been conspicuous in his absence, at least for the first two episodes of Travels Of A Lifetime. Surely he too owes a lot to Palin for his new career making programs about train journeys, but I somehow get the impression that the old Tory sees his shows as separate from others, as if he pioneered his own genre. (Is it me or does Portillo think he is Palin, or the Conservative equivalent of him?)

That aside, this really is succulent, outstanding television – the best type of telly for cold Sunday evenings.

Powerchairs and Bags

This is going to sound a bit silly, but I think it’s worth noting. I have two powerchairs, so if I break one I can use the other while it’s being repaired. I’m supposed to use them both equally in order to level out wear and tear, but I must confess I tended to just use one while the other gathered dust. I suppose it was kind of a habit. I realised the other day why this was, though: only one chair had a bag on it’s back, and because of the way it was attached, couldn’t easily be swapped. So if I needed to buy anything when I was out and about, I could only take the one chair. It’s silly but true. The solution is, however, simple: I now intend to buy a second backpack as soon as possible.

Seriously?!

Are Americans seriously supposed to believe that a man who claims to have contracted Corronavirus just a week ago is now perfectly well? A clinically obese, fairly unfit man in his seventies, who did nothing to avoid catching the virus and thus caught a fairly bad case of it, is now suddenly well enough again to resume holding campaign rallies? Is america seriously supposed to believe that?

And is the rest of the world seriously supposed to still respect this buffoon or the country he leads, after he has spent four years turning it into a laughing stock? After he has reduced political discourse there to the level of primary school playground bickering, and encouraged fascist thugs to reduce cities to ash? A once great, proud country, sunken to the level of petulant, horrifying bickering through the election of this imbecellic egomaniac with no idea how to lead a superstate; who claims to have caught a fatal virus but then suddenly recovers just a week later. Are we seriously supposed to respect that? Seriously?