Friday, 25 November 2011

Rambling, comedy and winter words

Some of you will remember that the subtitle, if you like, of my old blog was “rambling with Rachel Fox”. Well, when I started this new blog I deliberately left the “rambling” behind – I thought it was time for a change or two, I suppose. I thought maybe I would ditch the longer posts, the general vagueness of direction, maybe even the ellipsis habit. But of course old habits die hard... and sometimes that's no bad thing... so here is a good old rambly post.

This week I have thought a fair bit about comedy. As I mentioned in my last post comedy is one of my true loves, one of the staples of my life (that's true for many of us, I think... TV comedy in particular has a special place in our hearts) and certainly I have written about it plenty on the old blog. Many of us were raised on TV comedy – I know I was – so it can feel a bit like family almost (I've said before that Morecambe and Wise were like uncles to me in some ways and sometimes I even think Dave Allen was my Dad-substitute... remember I was fatherless from the age of 6). So what of the current crop...? Well, this family feeling does mean I take an interest in it all whether I like it or not. I watch the new Gervais/Merchant “Life is Short” (at least to start with), for example, and observe how disappointed many viewers are (I'm not particularly... I only thought “The Office” was OK, never brilliant or genius or any such... though brilliant at making money perhaps!).

But mainly, instead of the new stuff, I've been concentrating on catching up with shows that I've missed somehow. Take “Black Books”... for various reasons (mainly to do with giving up excess and having a baby in 2000) I never watched this one when it came out (and there are 3 series – 2000-2004). So recently I've been making up by watching it all... this month. It is very amusing too – quite “Fawlty Towers”, more than a hint of “Ab Fab” and “Young Ones”... but all in a good way – and of course the three principals are very, very good (Bill Bailey seems to be one of the very few comedians who doesn't have an army of haters online... unless I've just never come across them...). Over here you can see/hear the co-writer of "Black Books", Graham Linehan, talking about writing comedy (he also worked on “Father Ted” and “The IT Crowd” of course – quite some CV).

Oh, and while we're on the subject here's a nice bit from the“Black Books” centrepiece, comedian Dylan Moran... perhaps not for any of you who are very devout... or who can't bear the odd f-word though...

I quite liked this bit too... laughed out loud and everything...

Then on facebook I came across a comedy show I don't know at all yet – a bit of Louis CK's show “Louie”... via a post from poet Colm Keegan about the new Gervais/Merchant thing. The clip I watched is here but beware because (a) it is very explicit (lots of cock-talk) and (b) stick with it... it starts like just another tired bit of potty-mouthed misogyny but it does get to its, as it were, point eventually (then it goes a bit soft-focus, flag-moment “West Wing” at the end for me in fact... but you can't have everything now, can you..?).

So that was comedy... what else can I ramble about? Well, I've been walking a lot – clearing the head which has been a bit full of work stuff, family stuff... you know the kind of thing. I haven't made it to art class for a few weeks (because of the just-mentioned lots-going-on) but I've been taking heaps of photos – especially in the grounds of the (very) local mental hospital that's being closed down this month (one such photo at the top of the post – still working out what kind of tree that is...). And I even reworked an old poem the other day (I don't do that very often). The old version was here... but a snappier new version is below (it's still a bit doom-laden but it is snappier).

Bleak and winter

Suddenly the trees have less to say
The sun just blinks, then folds again
Barely a whimper of warmth for us
Huddled in our burrows for the snivelling season

Then we hark at the calendars 'Xmas is coming!
The goose, where's that fowl? We will eat till we burst!'
But even the feast has us cold these days
Nothing's right, all is humbug - no wood, fewer trees

And we don't even know why we want what we want
Our guiding lights have turned dim and dirty
Stars, twinkling smiles, any flash can switch us
We hunger for warmth - because apart it's all gone

Though it pains us, the forced plastic party of Xmas
Its bright crumpled hat and its family affairs
Without it what's left - the bitter midwinter
The coughing, the quiet, dark nights, darker days

RF 2009/2011

So that's me... ramble, ramble, ramble...ha, ha,, hoo, hoo. Crack open the December cheer early, why don't you?



Sarah said...

Hi Rachel,
I enjoyed your ramble-and your poem, and in fact the tree photo-so everything really! I love comedy too and watch my favourite ones over and over in a bit of a sad I can quote it way-Alan Partridge the two later series is one, Only fools and horses as it is always on and somehow really comforting. I have discovered a couple of new ones recently-the IT crowd was quite new to me and also 30 Rock-which I would never have gone for I don't think if it hadn't been recommended-but I love it. I am actually going to my Christmas do this year as it is at the comedy club in Greenwich rather than at an overpriced cram 'em in restaurant.
There, I have rambled back!
Have a good weekend!

Rachel Fox said...

Excellent rambling. I've liked the bits of IT Crowd that I've watched so must watch the rest of it some time!
Enjoy your Xmas do...

Judy Taylor said...

I can't watch The IT Crowd, it reminds me too much of a job I used to have (same is true of The Office, of a different job: yes, I've made a few Poor Life Choices in my time...) but Black Books is one of my favourite comedies ever. Mind you, I know if I had ever had my *dream* job, owning a second-hand bookshop, I'd have ended up like Bernard - holed up in the back shop with a pile of books and a bottle, giving customers money to go away and stop annoying me...

And it's boring to say it, but one of the things I look forward to about Christmas is repeats of Morecambe and Wise. If I haven't seen a play what Ern wrote, or Greig's Piano Concerto By Greig, by New Year I feel awfully let down. Sad really.

Rachel Fox said...

Sounds like we have some comedy taste in common, Judy. Did you watch the drama last Xmas of the Eric & Ernie story? It was the best thing on all holidays last year I think. We all watched it (young, old and older) and all enjoyed it. It's so nice that they didn't die alone and miserable for a start (unlike so many comic favourites...). I'd watched the Hancock drama not long before - sad, sad, sad...

I've only had a couple of office-environment jobs and both ended badly - I'm really not good in that world! Once I walked out, once I was booted out (because I couldn't stop crying...)... so it's been more often working for myself or some bizarre place (nightclubs in the '90s...) for me. Probably the job I've found least dreadful was working in the special needs dept. of an FE college.... though you could have gotten a sitcom out of the staffroom there too. That was about 10 years ago but then we moved north and onto new stories.


Rachel Fox said...

Oh and I've never worked in a second-hand bookshop but I did spend a good time working in a (dance music specialist) second-hand record shop in Leeds in the '90s. It had its moments... mainly male customers, many of them trying to catch me out re music knowledge!


Niamh B said...

I <3 Dylan Moran. That bit about kids is hilarious - japanese pizza on stilts - the man is a genius.
By the by - you know rambling in Ireland has a kind of specific meaning out the country - dating back a bit, I guess, but what it meant was going out to your neighbours house and calling unannounced and staying drinking tea and chatting till all hours and then going on to the next place. Very few do it any more, the invention of the phone kind of put paid to it, there's the odd hard case that keeps it up though.

Rachel Fox said...

Fascinating rambling talk! In England it mainly just means walking out on the hills etc. these days... oh, and the talking at length and losing the plot. I don't know its old meaning... or how it goes for the Scots.

And oh, you used the 'genius' word. Now he'll have to get crap.


Dominic Rivron said...

Bleak and Winter - gloriously captures the mood of this time of year!

Someone I know and I have started, as a joke, to wish each other with cheerful sincerity "a happy [insert date] of November". It seems a good way of getting through it. Celebrate each day.

Rachel Fenton said...

My dad looked like Eric Morcambe.

That must mean I do, partly. Must buy some specs and see.

Rachel Fox said...

Well, happy 27th November to you both, D.

And R, I posted a photo of my Dad back on the old blog... probably before you were around. It's here

He was kind of gorgeous.


Rachel Fenton said...

That's a terrific photo!
Your dad remids me a little of a pic of my maternal grandpa - must post it sometime - mostly just the clothes, I think, and the poses!

Rachel Fox said...

Well my parents were often a generation older than my friends' parents... my Mum was 43 when I was born and it wasn't so common then!

undeleted said...


How heck? I like the new look blog.

Why aren't you on Twitter yet?

This woman is looking for a poem about dead pets and for some reason it made me think of you. Any ideas? I think she's from Huddersfield.


"Anyone know any suitable poems for when a family pet dies? My nephews' cat was killed by a car last night. They're teens but still... "

Rachel Fox said...

Ach twitter... just can't be arsed.

Re dead pets - I only have a short poem I wrote when Mum's dog died and I have as yet shared it with no-one. I have no strong good feelings about cats really...


Anonymous said...

No problem, just a thought.

Twitter is a load of old crap in many ways. Useful in others.

Have you got an iPad in the house yet? I may want to run some apps by you at some point ..



Rachel Fox said...

We have access to one. It did look at the site for your new thing but it meant nothing to me! I still read books on the whole.

Rachel Fox said...

That "It" should have been "I"... obviously.

Marion McCready said...

that is the most fantastic tree! how interesting to have a psychiatric hospital down the road! did you know there's a craze of exploring old, empty / abandoned psychiatric hospitals - there's loads of youtube videos of mostly art college kids making films in such places. some of them are really stunning buildings, and this one looks pretty great too!

Rachel Fox said...

yes, I walk there often... in the huge grounds. it's not all abandoned yet... but soon.

Domestic Oub said...

Ah Morcambe and Wise, quite brilliant.

IT Crowd is well worth a watch. We didn't watch it at the time, and we are now just DVRing all the series. Loving it. Helps both himself and myself are IT emploees (well, ex-employee in my lucky case. Have seen Bill Bailey live lots of times and he's been utterly brilliant every time.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, I have seen bits of It Crowd and enjoyed them (the dungeons and dragons type one especially). I will get to the whole series at some point I suspect.
I was a bit late to Bill B... but he is so likeable (in a good way...) and these days that's not true of many comics!


Domestic Oub said...

Yes, Bill Bailey is so likeable - we're off to see Jimmy Carr on Friday night and I have seriously mixed feelings about him. I want to be Bill Bailey's best friend... but as for Carr, hmmm, not sure I'd like to hang out with him!

Rachel Fox said...

I've heard or seen very little of J Carr... seen him on "QI" once or twice I suppose. I don't have any feelings re him... I quite like Alan Carr but then I have always had a weakness for "the gays".

Judy Taylor said...

Oh yes, Bill Bailey - another <3! We saw him live a couple of years ago and he was great. The luvvableCockneysingalong version of "Bela Lugosi's Dead" cracks me up every time I think of it, usually in public places which is a bit awkward. He plays the theremin too, which is not as easy as it looks (I've tried).

Haven't seen the Eric and Ernie play: I tend to steer clear of comics' biogs, because of all the gloom and angst (there was one a few years ago about Wilfred Brambell and Harry H Corbett that depressed me no end), but it's good to hear they were an exception. I'll look out for a repeat.

Jimmy Carr reminds me of someone from my school chemistry class. I do not mean this as a compliment...

Judy Taylor said...

Just had to add, your captcha asked me to type in "readdle". This is a good word for what my week's been like. I may make it my motto!

Rachel Fox said...

I've only seen BB on TV/DVD - not a fan of arenas and that's where he is live these days, isn't he?

JC seems to fit into the "bit offensive but not as bad as Frankie Boyle etc." slot. Yawn. I saw Frankie Boyle live once... didn't like it all. Too many of the extreme jokes seemed to have a good old misogynist heart (and oddly I don't think he is... just the jokes).

But yes, look out for the TV play ("Eric and Ernie"). I'm sure they'll show it again this Xmas.