I’m on a no-alcohol, no-caffeine, no-sugar, vegan diet. It’s less fun than it sounds. Occasionally I cheat, but mostly I don’t, because I don’t want to upset the lovely doctors at the Infusio clinic in Frankfurt who gave me my stem cells for the Lyme disease treatment and who insist they need the right anti-inflammatory, alkaline diet to thrive. And besides, even though it’s horrible, I’m quite enjoying, in my masochistic way the rigour and the punishing asceticism. Also, it has given me insights into a world which I never imagined in a million years I would ever enter.
You don’t get quite the same production values in things like C5’s How the Victorians Built Britain but you don’t get the PC bollocks of Bodyguard and King Arthur’s Britain
What a load of utter tripe Bodyguard (BBC1, Sundays) was. Admittedly, I came to it late having missed all the sex scenes with Keeley Hawes and Robb Stark, which may have dazzled me in the way they seem to have dazzled many impressionable viewers.Sex scenes in TV drama are a bit like the chaff used by fighters to distract radar-guided missiles. You’re so busy feeling simultaneously awkward and embarrassed and half-titillated, covering your eyes with your fingers, wishing your other half wasn’t watching with you because then it would be proper porn and you could enjoy it, that you sometimes forget to notice what convoluted, implausible tosh the surrounding drama is.
Things I learned about the Germans after a fortnight living as a non–tourist in Frankfurt:
1. Germans, and Germany generally, are among the world’s most underrated things. True they are not so adept at wit, snark, banter, jocularity or general frivolity. But they are kind, welcoming, generous and unlike, say, the French, charmingly grateful when you attempt to speak their quaint, guttural, impossibly inflected language even though — stimmt! — they speak yours so much better.
2. Here’s what happened when I lost my wallet.
James Delingpole on the women shaping a male-dominated industry
Funny, isn’t it, how little you hear about Bitcoin these days? That’s probably because an awful lot of punters came horribly unstuck and are still nursing their wounds, praying the price will recover from this ‘crypto winter’. Round about last Christmas it was trading at $20,000; now it’s closer to $7,100 — which is quite a chunk to have lost if you bought at its peak, convinced by pundits such as software billionaire John McAfee that it would fly to the moon and beyond if only you kept your nerve and refused to sell.
For too long the leftie-dominated entertainment industry has been ignoring the truth about our world
This week’s guilty pleasure is Tom Clancy’sJack Ryan (Amazon Prime). It’s trash, of course, but very well done, high-octane, watchable trash. And if you want to feel better about your lowbrow tastes, make sure you read the finger-wagging critique by one Sonia Saraiya in Vanity Fair first.
‘Jack Ryan feels like a machine designed to turn us all into the sort of viewers who disappear smiling down jingoistic Fox News rabbit holes,’ she says, enticingly. And: ‘Both its protagonist and its plot are based on the foundational, unquestioned notion that American-military might — the best-funded killing infrastructure in human history — is helping to save the world.’ And: ‘Its other primary story objective is proving that Jack Ryan deserves his white male entitlement…’
Not so much a guilty pleasure after that little lecture, then; more a bounden and sacred duty.
Boy and I have been driving the Fawn mad by singing the ‘Johny Johny Yes Papa’ song. It goes (roughly to the tune Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star): ‘Johny Johny/ Yes, Papa/ Eating Sugar?/ No, Papa/ Telling Lies?/ No, Papa/ Open Your Mouth!/ Ha Ha Ha.’ In the likely event that you don’t know it, you’ll probably find it as irritating as the Fawn does — especially the misspelling of Johnny and the bad Indian accent. But in the unlikely event that you do, you’ll be congratulating yourself on your pop cultural credibility. This is because for a brief period peaking around last weekend — ‘Johny Johny Yes Papa’ was the world’s most fashionable meme.
Even if you’re not exactly sure what a meme is, you’ll be familiar with a few. Downfall — aka ‘Hitler reacts to’ — has become a stalwart of the genre.
But the BBC has decided the era of the middle-aged male presenter is over, which is why the only thing I can bear to watch is Bondi Rescue.
All the good non-fiction things that were ever on TV — from Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation to David Attenborough’s Planet Earth(the bits where he’s not proselytising about climate doom, I mean), from Andrew Graham-Dixon’s arty jaunts to Italy to Jonathan Meades’s bizarro forays into architecture, from The World at War to all those more recent war porn documentaries narrated by Sam West, from Werner Herzog’s Little Dieter Needs To Fly to Louis Theroux doing a number on Jimmy Savile — have one thing in common: they were all made by middle-aged men.
Middle-aged men are the business. They’re comfortable in their skin; they’ve got hinterland and character; they’ve put in the hard yards and the long hours getting to know their stuff in that obsessive way only men really do; they’ve replaced the glibness and flashiness and irritating bumptiousness of youth with sly wit and bruised wisdom; they’ve mastered their craft, they know their shit — and now they’re giving the rest of us the benefit of their expertise, as middle-aged men have been doing since time immemorial.
At least there is if you believe studies like The Republican War on Science (Mooney, 2005), Politicization of Science in the Public Sphere (Gauchat, 2012), and ‘Not for all the tea in China!’Political Ideology and the Avoidance of Dissonance-Arousing Situations (Nam et al, 2013).
But there’s a wrinkle here and you may have guessed what it is.
Plus: the women who love Jeffrey Dahmer: Netflix’s Dark Tourist reviewed.
Apparently there’s a new ‘character’ on University Challenge. I wouldn’t know. Last year, I vowed never again to raise my blood pressure by exposing myself to its new, gender-balanced questions: ‘Your starter for ten: which composer of Serenade for My Cat, rated by her father as the equal of Bach’s Goldberg Variations…’ Don’t know. Don’t care. You bastards ruined it, just like you ruined Sanpellegrino and Lucozade.
Same applies, now I think about it, to all the other programmes on the BBC. I never watch anything on it for pleasure these days: only out of duty — to see what the enemy is thinking — and also so I can keep up to date my list of all the people I’m going to have exiled to bare rocks in the Outer Hebrides when I’m king. It’s the kindest thing. They can live on puffins and inbred Soay sheep and discover their inner selves.
After an hour’s beach work I was just about done. I’d read some book, I’d skimmed the papers, I’d eaten some bits of cheese on some oat biscuits (the closest I’ll concede to picnics, which I hate), I’d drunk some water as per my instructions from the Fawn (‘Drink some water! You never drink enough water’), I’d dried off from the swim, I’d got a pair of very numb buttocks after sundry failed attempts to get comfy on the not very flat rock: surely I’d done enough now to earn my release.