JUST AN OBSERVATION
Friday May 4th
This week the news has focussed rather intently on the ultimately baffling case of MI6 operative, mathematical genius and ,if reports are to be believed cross dressing auto-eroticist Gareth Williams who was discovered dead padlocked inside a sports bag in August 2010. Naturally the bulk of the press has concentrated on the cross dressing autoerotic fetishist side of the story as a means of explaining the mysterious circumstances of his premature death as it detracts from other aspects of the story which are probably more embarrassing to the security services than they are for a grieving family who having already lost their son now have to see his name sullied rather than being provided with any relevant answers.
From the first time I heard of this case it struck me as an obvious no-brainer that another party was involved. As the body was discovered in a bag which had been locked from the outside I am not sure why so much time was spent trying to disprove this and why the fact there were suspiciously no finger prints in Williams’s flat suggesting it had been swept clean. What annoys me more is the insinuation-very subtle admittedly- that a private life involving homosexuality, cross dressing and sexual practices of a fetishistic nature-none of the former are illegal- are an explanation for an otherwise unexplained death. It is as if by drawing a little bit of titillating smut over the whole proceedings MI5/MI6 can absolve themselves of any responsibility. It is also strange how such a supposedly and normally reliable important operative’s presence wasn’t noticed for a week and even then the alarm was raised by his concerned sister. So many questions were left unanswered at the inquest that I feel his family’s frustration and disappointment in how they have been let down by the findings and the accusations- of a supposedly sexual deviant although there is no actual concrete proof of this- levelled at their son.
Elsewhere this week due to being stuck at home convalescing I have watched more television than usual and probably more than is healthy. The big question I have been asking however is not how will the excellent Homelands pan out during its climactic season finale on Sunday- this series has been riveting from its opening episode throwing up new theories alongside ever changing heroes and villains on a weekly basis until the viewer is as paranoid and suspicious as CIA maverick Carrie- but why does anyone still watch Eastenders? I stopped watching some time ago but slipped into a few episodes whilst channel surfing but found a whole episode too much to contemplate even under the after effects of anaesthetic and strong painkillers. The worst was yet to come though when Patsy Palmer as the gobby Bianca spent most of one episode squawking abuse at other characters and we were supposed to believe this was good acting and character development. Personally I feel she dragged the plight of struggling single mothers back several decades and the main problem with the programme is it seems to take itself too seriously and sets itself up as a forum for topical issues without exploring them adequately and endowing them with any sympathy. Instead I spend the whole time watching it unable to believe how vile people are to each other whilst an air of negativity pervades the proceedings and surely Phil Mitchell-and his errant obnoxious family- is one of the worst characters ever created. I would avoid these people if I met them in the street so I don’t understand why the BBC expects us to allow them into our living rooms four times weekly.
A better example of good television is the BBC2 series focussing on the seventies. This was the decade which is always seen as the poor relation to the previous highs of its immediate predecessor the swinging sixties; although the sixties only ever really swung for a select handful of arty bohemian types usually ensconced in Chelsea. This series has cleverly detailed the hardships Britain went through in this tumultuous decade- a recession, devalued pound, coalition government, dubious fashions and shit music masterminded by moguls and performed by puppets (stop me if you’ve heard this one before)- and has offered an insight that perhaps the economic terrain and changing cultural values inherent today were established during this time as the class structure began to break down and the middle classes and their aspirants began to take control. Unlike the sixties where the timescale distance always affords them a sense of wet eyed nostalgia and reverence the seventies were a time of hardship and it is little wonder a frustrated youth turned to more aggressive forms of expression whether it be on the football terraces or probably the greatest anti establishment and irreverent youth movement ever, punk rock. The last episode this coming Monday concentrates on the fall out of these happenings and the impending arrival of the eighties as well as the most scarily right wing government in recent memory headed by none other than doyenne of self Margaret Thatcher.
Also worth catching is BBC4’s latest Saturday night Danish/ Swedish import The Bridge which features a lead character -Saga – who is an emotionally void blonde in leather trousers with a gung ho attitude towards sex and her perceived frailty of human emotions. Definitely the most interesting characterisation of a detective in years the drama which she hangs her character onto is also interesting even if some of the credibility and kudos these Scandinavian dramas are attracting are merely because they are foreign and inevitably charged with exoticism. They certainly beat the British efforts offered up on a Saturday night such as the embarrassing Britain’s Forgot Talent- featuring both Simon Cowell and David Walliams who have to be the two creepiest men on television as well as the gayest straight men ever- and if nothing else allows me to catch up on my now almost fluent Danish which I have picked up watching the Killing and Borgen.
Being housebound has also allowed me to indulge in listening to lots of new music and I am pleased to report that the new Jack White album is considerably better-less cluttered and self conscious- than anything he has turned out in years either with the White Stripes or any of his side projects. Also sent to me by a friend was a copy of Kill For Love by the Chromatics which has been indispensable listening, taking in the best bits of Young Marble Giants, Jesus and Mary Chain, Phil Spector, Suicide, Brian Eno, New Order and including heavy doses of Moroder nestling up beside glam rock stomp and handclaps. If this sounds a diverse set of influences it is and can afford to be as the album clocks in at a hefty ninety minutes although it never outstays its welcome and remains riveting and atmospheric throughout. The band also oversaw probably last years best soundtrack for probably last years best film, Drive, and their noirish eighties soundscapes are all over that film and this album.
Out in the real world the Edvard Munch exhibition is down at the Dean Gallery amd is well worth catching especially as the news revealed that his most famous painting The Scream is now the highest priced painting ever sold at public auction. Checking out this collection allows you to see what all the fuss is about although as is usually the case other works are more intriguing than the ‘big draw ‘and in this instance a work entitled Attraction was the one which held my gaze and intrigued me the most.
Here is a track from the aforementioned Chromatics album which showcases many of the influences I mentioned above.