BBC, PC and Bar

richelieu  kipar.orgOver the holiday period when the presidential candidates are silenced and the bureaucrats are off to the beach, life is quiet.
The fiestas of Christmas are over, those of the New Year yet to come; the organisers buying their potent fireworks from local shops who display a notice banning their sale on the very cabinet containing the display – everything from rockets capable of a Mars mission to landmines in hessian bags.

Although this is the dry season and the grazing has started to dry out we have had rain in the afternoons – just when I had been thinking of going down to the pool – so in intervals between feeding poultry, sheep, horses and cattle I’ve been watching more television than usual.

Generally I listen to the BBC radio which I can access without difficulty, but for the Test Match, because of rights issues, I have to use a system which hides my IP address and have to go through the same rigmarole to watch BBC television.

It annoys me that I pay for this when I could be paying the BBC direct…but the BBC doesn’t seem to understand that it has an enormous potential audience – not just among expats, but among people wanting to learn English by the best possible method – listening to the language as it is used in all its variety.
If the IP address hiding companies can sort out the technology, why not the BBC?

The resulting close encounters with BBC television have led me to think that those running the joint have lost touch with what Reith announced were the duties, the responsibilities, of the organisation: to educate, inform and entertain.
Just tell me where Bargain Hunt or the Puppet Game Show fit in to any of these categories, let alone the ubiquitous Stephen Fry and the murderous Eastenders.

Those currently running the BBC appear to me to be much more motivated by lining their own pockets by resigning with a whopping severance package and then returning to the same job as a freelance on a tax fiddle than by providing a public service….they are the clones of their counterparts in commercial broadcasting.

And yet they like to dress themselves in the clothing of their predecessors….telling us that they provide ‘quality’ broadcasting.
Up to a point, Lord Copper: I still remember the hash they made of the Jubilee River Pageant….more like Three Men in a Boat without a bung.

How would anyone interested in quality manage to present to the public an overheated pseudo-historical hodgepodge like ‘The White Queen’?

Or that mountebank performance on ‘Byzantium’ where the presenter manages to reduce the impact on its world of the Arian heresy to an anecdote relating the demise of its protagonist while on the loo.

And for the introduction to ‘The High Art of the Low Countries’ we are given the high treat of the presenter cycling through a low lying landscape of multi coloured tulips with a background of windmills just to make it clear to us that this is all about Holland. Except it isn’t, as the presenter makes clear almost immediately.

I can never work out whether the BBC and all its works thinks we, the public, are terminally ignorant or whether it is they themselves who have been dumbed down by the system which produces them and they are paying us the compliment of placing us on their own level.

Still, I brightened up on seeing a programme called ‘Pride and Prejudice…Having a Ball’ which promised to present an historically accurate depiction of the ball at Netherfield.
Despite relentlessly jolly presenters popping in and out of doors like weathermen on speed it was interesting….the clothes, the food, the dances themselves, explained by experts in their respective fields.

And then…..

Among the dancers representing the guests was a chap of mixed race origin.

In every other aspect we had had accuracy, from the men’s ‘ready boys’ trousering to the china blancmange moulds….but this was a glaring anomaly.
A chap of mixed race would not have been among the guests.
This was supposed to be the provincial society of Regency England….not the society of revolutionary France where the father of the novelist Alexandre Dumas could become a general despite his origins as the son of a French colonial planter and his black slave woman.
Carelessness…or political correctness?

Probably the latter to judge by the advance publicity for the BBC’s forthcoming production of Dumas’ ‘The Three Musketeers’, where we are to be treated to women ‘with a real sense of their own destinies’….Milady de Winter, who ends up on the block?
Women ‘as powerful and impressive as the men’….Constance Bonacieux, poisoned in a convent?

Not content with this the series will touch on domestic terrorism (!) and slavery while to crown the whole misbegotten gallimaufry the boastful musketeer Porthos will be – wait for it – of mixed race, having been born in the Cour des Miracles – the Paris equivalent of the Seven Dials rookery in London.

Those responsible for putting this on the box need urgent assistance to remove their heads from their backsides.
‘The Three Musketeers’ is a classic adventure story…not a vehicle for ticking politically correct boxes.

I can remember a previous television serialisation of ‘The Three Musketeers’ – I think in the sixties – but above all I remember when the BBC was capable of producing a series that was an accurate depiction of the book from which it was taken.

Who can forget Alan Badel in the ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’?
I can see that face in the mirror yet.

If the BBC wishes to be politically correct, it should apply itself to the manifestations of discrimination and exclusion in our own time…the past is another country, and attempting to push our own preoccupations upon it can only further pervert the way in which we see it.

Or is it, as I suspect, that political correctness is used to plaster over the cracks in society, not to dig them out and repair the faults within.

That Christmas Spirit

No, not Highland Park….at least, not to start with.

By December 23rd I had done my shopping and was looking forward to battening down the hatches for a quiet Christmas….just a trifle to make and that was it.

So on Christmas Eve we were having breakfast on the balcony and looking forward to a peaceful day when our new neighbour arrived at his corral to feed his cattle.

His corral being the other side of the track and downhill from our place.

To encourage himself he switched on the local radio station giving all of us the benefit of its early morning programme …..the one before the playing of the national anthem at seven o’clock.
The programme format is that the announcer rings up unwary people chosen at random and asks them to dedicate a piece of music and to choose the style they prefer.

Early rising is common here, luckily, but even given that people tend to be somewhat terse, except the odd granny who intends to include her whole extended family in the dedication together with a description of the qualities and qualifications of each and every one, so the announcer generally has things his own way, the choice of music being between ‘romantica’ and ‘ranchero’.

Unfortunately, this was Christmas Eve, and the announcer was in festive mood – awash with the Christmas spirit.
Romantica and ranchero were not enough.
He offered Christmas music….

So once again I suffered the same syrupy guff that had made life hideous in the previous weeks…and then came the final coup de grace.

Jingle Bells.

Jingle Bells performed by dogs.

Our canine horde, busy rootling under the table for unconsidered trifles, showed no hesitation.
Led by the Costa Rican King Charles Corgi they charged from the house as one, howling like the hounds of Herne the Hunter and heading for the corral, where their canine counterparts were woofing all the way.

Passing the neighbour at a fair lick they seized his radio, the Alsatian maintaining possession despite smart work in the scrum from the hairy brute with ears like periscopes and making his run for the line to smash the radio to pieces on the steps of our porch.

Deeply satisfied, all trotted back to the balcony to receive the congratulations of their admiring public, ears up and tails wagging.

Closely followed by the new neighbour, torn between laughter and exasperation.

Served with coffee and bacon sandwiches, laughter won.

But I felt obliged to go out shopping again to buy him another radio.

Ho, ho, sodding ho!

Jack Frost Roasting in an Open Fire

pinterest
pinterest
And if he isn’t already just give me the pitchfork and I’ll see to it myself.

If I hear one more blast of American secular Christmas songs when out shopping I risk bursting a gasket…

‘Let it snow’, indeed…as I step out of the shop into 35 degrees centigrade on the street.

The next rendition of Feliz Navidad by a choir of adenoidal children to the tune of ‘Jingle Bells’ will bring out the Herod in me and while that fell dirge ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ seems to be less popular these days it can still spring out and drive the unwary to drink at any moment.

Oh for a decent carol!

And with that in mind, I would like to wish you a merry Christmas, to thank you for all the comments which make the blog a pleasure to write and to hope that you will enjoy this carol from the tradition of pub singing around Sheffield and the Derbyshire Peak district…..

Sweet Chiming Christmas Bells

A Busyness of Bloggers

marksinthemargin.blogspot.com
marksinthemargin.blogspot.com

Adullamite, whose blog gives me a great deal of pleasure, said in a recent post

‘I looked through the usual blogs, commented on one or two and will do on one or two others once I have read all the words. The blogs are so good, taking me all over the world, into lives I would never know otherwise. People in different worlds than mine with very different lifestyles….and differing views educate, inform and entertain better than the so called professionals do. They of necessity are limited to what pays, blogs reveal the heart! That is why they are good. At least the ones I choose to look at are.’

Thus he sums up what I enjoy about the blogging world – people talking about what they observe, what interests them, what moves them, what is important to them, what they ferret out – and the blogs I follow, return to time after time, are those with heart.

But they are as rare as hens’ teeth.

I look at the WordPress ‘Freshly Pressed’ section from time to time in the hope of finding a new blog to read…but less and less often.

I need a translation to know what LBGT might be…but I suspect it has nothing to do with gin and tonic…..

I couldn’t give a hoot about people moaning on about their ancestors’ slavery – it’s a rare family that hasn’t known oppression in its past and I’d be a damn sight more interested if these bods would look at current slavery practices with the same anal attention they give to their families’ pasts. Get involved…do something….stop grizzling.

Parenting blogs…yuck!
‘How I refused to believe that my little girl was a pain in the backside and interpreted her last minute refusal to take part in the Nativity play which had taken so much work to stage as an example of an independence that would one day enable her to say ‘no’ to drugs’…Double yuck!
There are some brilliant blogs on being a parent – take a look at some of the family posts on Mark Charlton’s Views from the Bikeshed or Stephen Herrick-Blake’s Bloggertropolis where the love just shines through in both cases…but parenting….no.

Exhibitionists pretending to dally with racism to give an unholy thrill to their audience…not that either.

Expats whose posts seem to consist of saying ‘Wow!’…..

The self promoters – oh look I have five thousand followers….

People who can’t use their own language…..

But enough of ‘Freshly Pressed’ as the blogs I see there , with honorable exceptions, show more attention to technique – to tricks – rather than content.

And content is what counts.

I’ve logged in to blogs about France and found myself enjoying music I’d never heard of….The Diary of Amy Rigby….
Films and how to view them from the blog which ceased to be written with the death of its eponymous owner – Boris in Ayrshire.

Discovering the difference between English and Australian thunderboxes thanks to Days on the Claise

Romanesque architecture illustrated by marvellous photography on the Via Lucis blog…

Recipes with a context on Cheffiles

It’s the sheer vitality of it all that counts…and I haven’t told the half of it.

And how many blogs lack just that….vitality.

Pedants who tell you what each French word means – without the faintest idea of what is happening in their own French backyard….

The well connected – to each other – who receive your comment on their post with a pale ‘thank you for your contribution’ and return to the contemplation of their well connected friends’ navels, minds closed to anything outside their own world…

Photographic blogs….which leave me asking whether the technique of taking a pic has taken over from communicating something through that pic….

Oh, stop grizzling, woman!

A blog with heart, with vitality, doesn’t need to be a literary master piece, nor does it have to be about the extraordinary….but it does need a blogger who tells you how it is – lets you see their world as they see it – and who enjoys the relationship with readers through the comments section, which is, in my view, the best part of my blog!

Just doing a swift trawl through the blogs I enjoy I can visit Scotland, England, Wales, France, Spain, Gibraltar, Belgium, Turkey, the Gulf states, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Canada and the U.S.A……

I can learn about knitting, crochet, ceramics; cooking and preserving; riding and walking; animal rescue and architecture; religion and politics; wildlife and town life; I can see the sights and discover their history…..

And it’s all thanks to those special bloggers – those with heart.

Christmas is Coming….

christmas tree hopital de ninosAnd San Jose abounds in fibre glass reindeer and inflatable santas to add to the perils of the streets.
The lights have been switched on at the tree outside the Hopital de Ninos and the municipality has declared war on unauthorised street vendors.

It seems to have worried the municipality that the street vendors have encroached on the muni’s prerogative by hiring out sites to each other, the contract assured by a few heavies, as opposed to the muni’s system of licensing street sellers and sending the police to chase the others who just nip round the corner and come back when the police have given up.

My money is not on the muni.

Christmas music has taken over in the supermarkets….and the decorations are going up in the three valleys.
And very nice they are too though they cannot – could not – rival those of the area where I used to live in France; I reckon that it could have been seen from space over the Christmas period though unknown to the world and to GPS at all other times.

One item catches my eye each time I pass.
A Santa Claus, all white beard and whisker on the red oval background.
I know things about that santa which cannot be revealed to its proud owner.

Some time back I was visiting my mother before Christmas as part of those ‘let’s see if the house in France has been taken over by squatters’ trips.
She was sorting out her Christmas card and present list and held out to me in some annoyance the item which now adorns a door in the three valleys.

Hilda won it in a raffle for the blind and passed it on to me! What does she think I’m going to do with it!

Well if you don’t want it….

I certainly don’t!

Then it will come in handy for wrapping up this bottle of port I’m taking back.

And so it did.
The port emerged from the suitcase unscathed – as I had not passed through U.S.A. airports with their Fagin trained baggage handlers – and I laid the wrapper aside for disposal.

The next day the woman who mucks us out each week came for her regular session which has The Men heading for the hills and the dogs lying low under the balcony while mops are flourished and dusters deployed.
She saw the wrapper and asked if she could have it.
Of course she could.

After all, what was I going to do with a festive loo seat cover?

But I still feel vaguely guilty as I pass the house…..

Needless to say, The Neighbour (some of whose history is available on the page just under the header) has decided to contribute to the Christmas spirit.
He has let it be known that in his view we are responsible for the ruination of local solidarity – that is, his reign of terror – and that he expects every Costa Rican to do their duty and ostracise us until we move out.

And if any Costa Rican does not then he will take measures to encourage them: he will kill off their cattle, poison their dogs and take a machete to anyone he encounters when there are no witnesses.

Clearly a conviction politician.

We don’t know everyone on our road….though we know a lot of people after the mess made of the water distribution by the people behind The Neighbour….

We are not universally liked by those we do know….the ‘soy pobre’s (I’m poor) who think we should give them plantains rather than sell them.
As I’ve said to a number of them…they have plenty of land to plant their own plantains, to sow beans and maize….and if they can’t be bothered, that’s their problem.
I’m not a charity for the idle.

The Neighbour is, I think, at his last throw of the dice.
Thanks to new laws and the courts his power as a sort of witchdoctor is in sad decline….people have seen that he can be taken on.

So now he goes for the race card…..and he will have some success.

But I think I can live with being ostracised by idiots….I’ve had that all my life.