The most innovative and underappreciated television programme of the last ten years. It's situation, the living room of a working class family, may have a lot to do with this neglect. It is in no way as cosy and safe as people might imagine but instead is a truly revolutionary piece of work. Ricky Tomlinson gets most of the acolades, but its real strength comes from the women: Sue Johnson, Caroline Aherne and Liz Smith all give superb, nuanced performances. The writing is usually invisible, but how's this for comedy genius?
Barbara: She's looking her age, Judith Chalmers. Isn't she Jim?
Jim: Don't know. How old is she?
Barbara: Don't know.
Now any right-thinking person would reject the absurd anachronism that is the House of Windsor - so far so predictable. I've covered this elsewhere but hey, I'm consolidating. If we must have royalty then they are best when they are at least entertaining. So let's forget the Queen and Princess Anne with all her worthy work for charity. The real draw, the top dog, must be Prince Philip. The man's a nonsense and you make a fool of yourself if you take his faux pas too seriously: he's an irrelevance. But I say, "keep on trucking, Phil, you're the only one who ever puts a smile on my face." (This is also why Harry is better than William. Obviously.)
Contrary, visionary, sophisticated, mercurial, prolific then reclusive: the career of Noel Scott Engel, from teen idol to avant garde experimentation, is the most magnificent in the history of popular music.
Ah, Scott... How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
1) For being in a band called the Walker Brothers when none were called Walker and there were no brothers.
2) For “The Sun Ain’t Going to Shine Anymore” and “Make it Easy on Yourself” two of the greatest ballads of heartbreak ever recorded. “Loneliness… (bom bom) is the cloak I we-e-ear…”
3) For having the best hair ever.
4) For going to live in a monastery when the teen adulation got too much.
5) For the four mental sixties solo albums - your Trojan Horse baritone smuggling in songs about prostitutes, transvestites, opium dens, funerals and gonorrhea over enormous orchestral arrangements. And for them being commercial successes! Scott 2 was a number 1 chart topper. Scott 4, the best, was a relative failure. You can only trust the public so much.
6) For doing fuck all then getting back together with the Walker Brothers! Your songs being influenced by Eno-Bowie and in turn influencing them.
7) For Tilt, a record so impenetrable that I saw a review which gave it 0 and 5 stars – “we just don’t know.”
So, 7 ways then.
Oh! And for conning people that you were some crazy recluse when you were actually hanging around your London local playing darts. 8 ways. And mysteriously producing a Pulp album. 8 and a half ways.
Just realised that these aren't ways of loving Scott Walker at all. They're reasons. Oh well, you get the idea.
No need to tell everyone your incredible analysis of a film as the credits start to roll. No need to ask me what I thought of it, *straight away*. Have you no shame? Will you really pontificate in front of all these people? (Shut it! You came here, I'm not shouting this through a megaphone...) The same goes for concerts, theatre etc: experience it, don't sit through it planning some opinion you'll season with stolen lines from newspaper reviews.
As with all religions, there are handy aphorisms to be found in Buddhism, Hinduism etc, but it’s best not to take the beliefs too seriously. Folk wisdom is everywhere: “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”; “love thy neighbour”; “two many cooks spoil the broth” – you take your lessons where you can. But the superstitions of farmers from Japan are just as wrong as those of Middle Eastern nomads. There’s no such thing as “Chi” and reincarnation doesn’t happen, just as there’s no heaven and no Messiah on the way. Patronisingly recognising the mysterious insights of “the East” whilst rejecting Western religion as socially constructed is, well, a bit rubbish.