Micheal Palin in North Korea

I just rewatched the first episode  of Michael Palin’s new channel Five series on North Korea, because I missed bits of it when it was on tv a couple of days ago. I must say I found it quite intriguing – I didn’t think Channel five were  into making programs like that. They have obviously taken a format they know works on channels like bbc1 and applied it to the most despotic country on the map, so that we glimpse a place so foreign and frightening that it quite beggars belief. It was fascinating to glimpse a country we all know so little about. Palin makes his usual show of being the affable middle-class Englishman abroad, attempting to be both serious and vaguely comic simultaneously, but below that we get a glimpse of something truly puzzling. What we are being shown here might well be propaganda, but the question is ‘whose?’ Are we seeing what the North Koreans want us to see, or are we  seeing what Channel Five want us to show us about North Korea? Through Palin this program projects the image of the quintessential Englishman abroad exploring what we have all been told  is a brutal despotic country, but to what extent is that in itself a contrivance? How can we be sure that in itself is not just as manipulative as the North Korean regime is supposed to be? or am I being over analytical? It’s a fascinating program either way, and one I look forward to watching more of.

How do we end this charade?

The sparks are really starting to fly over this travesty. All we can do now is sit back and watch. I’m now pretty sure that sooner or later brexit will be cancelled: May and the tories know full well the damage it will do, but can’t admit it. They’re continuing what they know is folly for ideological reasons. But on the  other hand,  guys like Macron are starting to lose   patience pointing  out that the Leave campaign lied to us two years ago.

Any reasonable person can now see how stupid Brexit is getting and what damage it would do to the  economy. Even the tories know it’s stupid. But I also think they – or at least the cabinet  – know why    the 27 other members  had to reject their silly plan yesterday, and were forced  to push it forward or risk losing all integrity and authority.  Any intelligent, informed person can see why the remaining 27 cannot give the tories  what they want, or the entire project would become meaningless.

Brexit has always  been a charrade. CaMoron only called  the referendum to get rid of UKIP; he probably thought he would win it easily. But his plan backfired, and the tories have no choice but to  give  the appearance of honouring  the referendum’s outcome. They know that, if they don’t, they would become a laughing stock; they also want to keep the nationalist nutters  who actually believe in brexit in the Tory party happy. But they know too what damage leaving the EU will  do, and why the remaining 27 rejected the plan yesterday; they just can’t admit it or they could kiss goodbye to any authority they ever had. Their image as stern authoritarians would  fly out the  window and they would never win an election ever again. Thus they have no choice but to keep up the appearance of continuing with something which they know full well will damage the country, and which they know full well will end up in no deal. It would be an utterly hilarious situation, if it wasn’t so dangerous, frightening and infuriating.

The question  is, how do we end this charade?

Why Jean-Luc Picard Is Actually the Hero We Need Right Now

While it is rather long, I think I need to flag this video  up. It is a discussion of the return of Captain Picard, and why Picard is exactly the character we need at the moment.  In it, Steve Shires looks at some of the best Picard episodes, arguing that he is  precisely the figure of   wisdom, patience and tolerance we need in the current political atmosphere. I think it’s worth a watch, even for non-Trekkies. Star Trek has always had the ability to show us an optimistic, hopeful vision of the future built on tolerance and respect – two things which  the world seems quite short of right now. While of course it remains to be seen whether the return of Picard isn’t just a gimmick to coax fans back, it is also true that he was always a figure of wisdom, who helped make Trek great. At the end of the day, you can be as cynical as you like: seeing Picard sat in the captain’s chair or ordering an  Earl Grey again is enough to fill any Trekkie with glee.


I have come across something very interesting indeed. On sunday my PA Mitchel suggested that I checked out a series called Atypical on Netflix. I’ve been wanting to get into something new for ages, so I thought I’d give it a go. Having now watched the first three episodes, I think I’m a fan. It’s about an American teenager with quite severe Autism  and  his family;  it also touches upon his school and  social life. I’d say it was more of a drama than a comedy, although it has comic moments. Yet the way it portrays autism,, disability and the social consequences of being part of a family with a severely autistic young man is unlike anything I’ve seen before: the way it explores the language surrounding disability issues, for example, tells me that this program was written by someone who knows what they’re talking  about. It also goes into some of the social issues involved, and the characters are certainly not the whiter-than-white generic staples one usually finds on this sort of program. I’m very impressed with netflix indeed – you seldom come across this kind of thing on conventional TV. I’ll certainly watch the rest of it, including the recently released second season, as I really want to see where they take it.

Rewatching Trust Episode one

I just rewatched the first episode of Trust. When it first aired on telly last Wednesday, it didn’t quite  have my full attention, so I thought a second viewing was in order. This time I found it much more interesting and certainly worth getting into.   It gives us a  glimpse of an episode of social history I had  heard of but didn’t know much about: one hears fragments of stories about the Getty family, but nothing very in-depth. This film illuminates that  story, and I can now see why the Getty family was/is so  renowned – they were complete pricks, weren’t they?! To have so much wealth yet refuse to pay any tax is utterly, utterly selfish. The way they lorded over the oil industry, recklessly using up the Earth’s resources as if they owned the entire planet was utterly vile. Danny Boyle paints a picture of how dire capitalism can get, and it isn’t pretty.

What is pretty, though, is the scenery Boyle uses.  I loved spotting parts of Charlton House I recognised just now. Boyle uses quite a bit of it, especially for interior shots. I recognised rooms I visit quite regularly;  one of them is where wee have our film festival meetings. It’s cool to think this show was made just around the corner from me, and by one of my favourite directors.

The next episode airs on Wednesday, and of course I’ll watch it. I want to see how  the story evolves, whether John-Paul Getty III survives, and how Danny Boyle continues to handle his portrait of these detestable capitalists. More to the point,  though, I’ll be watching for more glimpses of Charlton House.

Great Tweet mr. Adonis

I don’t  usually post this sort of entry, but this Tweet from Andrew Adonis is so  spot on – in part echoing what  I wrote on here yesterday – that I just had to pop it on here.

adonis tweet

Note he said ‘when’ rather than ‘if Brexit is stopped’. Surely  that is a  clear sign this embarrassing debacle is in it’s death throes.

Just a matter of time?

It definitely seems like things are, at last, starting to go in the right direction with regard to Brexit. According to this Guardian piece, “The body in charge of ensuring the EU referendum was fair gave out the wrong advice and helped Vote Leave”, clearly biassing  the vote in the Outists’ favour. The result the farce of 2016 produced must surely now be in doubt. Calls for a second referendum are now growing louder; surely it’s now just a matter of time before Brexit becomes nothing more than an idiotic, temporary mistake.