The Young Pope might work for the Mass market. Who knows what Donald Trump would have made of Diane Keating?

October 28, 2016

Diane Keating .jpg

TV Review

I noticed last night [25th October 2016], that in the UK the much-advertised new Sky block-buster was up against tough competition for the prime-time 9pm TV slot.

The Young Pope called out for serious attention, through its evident intelligent use of vast resources in what I believe is called production values.

I became a lapsed believer while watching the first instalment of this morality tale. Maybe it was because I missed the first few minutes and hadn’t been caught early enough for the experience to convert me into a true believer.

No plot-spoiler here

I don’t think there is much need for plot-spoiler caution in this post. There has been enough pre-publicity for anyone with access to Sky to know more than I do about this vehicle for Jude Law’s box-office manifestation. It comes complete with a cast of beautifully dressed prelates and the smouldering sexuality of Diane Keating. [Pause for confession: I have sinned, father. I have become increasingly troubled with thoughts of what Donald Trump would have made of the character played by Diane Keating.]

More confessions

The story mostly held my attention. But my lapses continued.  As well as the troublesome image of what Donald might do to Sister Mary, aka Diane Keating ,  I began to consider how to rate The Young Pope. [More confessions: Also, father, I tried switching channels during the ads to see if there was any secular relief on Sky Sports. I was sorely tempted by the devilish counter-attractions of live tennis.]

A bit of a switch off

Worse of all, having failed to survive watching a penultimate break for more ads, I found solace in a library book [Adam Sisman’s biography of John Le Carre, if you were to ask me, father].

Orthodox believers remained rather sanguine about The Young Pope

The truthfulness of Twitter

So it came about, that I never quite reached the end of the first celebratory festival in honour of the papacy of Lennie, the cigarette-smoking American Pontiff. That is not to say it will not become a block-buster.

In a week when Twitter announced serious malfunctions to its business plans, some of its tweets capture my  thoughts on The Young Pope.

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More to follow


Independent Judgement. I will miss you greatly

February 15, 2016

Obituary for a dear friend

Indy Paris RotatedThere was an inevitability about the passing of the print version of The Independent. I will miss a quirky friend who made morning coffee the more enjoyable for several decades.

My not particularly guilty secret. I became addicted to the print version of the Independent for a bundle of reasons. Now I have a tough decision. What will take its place in my affections?

But that decision is for the future. Now is time to recall the best of friends, brilliant, contrarian, instinctively liberal.

The Indy was not always reliable. It could never be guaranteed to turn up as regularly as I could have liked. In the three Newsagents closest to me, one always ordered a reasonable supply. One gave up stocking the paper a few years ago, and the third resolutely refused to double its numbers of copies, meaning that at times I was thwarted by someone else with a minority taste in the news they preferred, and the way in which it was presented.

A cause a day

Then there was a period a few years ago when every day was time for a new cause waged against a national or global injustice, until I felt slightly desensitized in my enthusiasm for for the ‘Cause of the day’.

Looking back

The Indy was born as a reaction against the last big disruption to the print media.

In the UK. Rupert Murdoch was successfully breaking the hold of the old print Unions. A handful of journalists opposing the Murdoch dominance formed The Independent.

The project was always fighting the economics of a declining market recognized so shrewdly by Murdoch whose Empire had the financial muscle to run promotional campaigns that further weakened its competitors. The Independent would have gone under far earlier if it had not been bought in 2010 for nonfinancial reasons for £1 by Evgeny Lebedev who has bankrolled it since to the tune of £60m

Its innovations included messy changes to a tabloid size, and occasional excessive exuberance in design ideas that never quite lined up with user appeal.

Now creative destruction will hit a fair number of the staff, even some among a talented bunch of journalists.

Chess

One of the reasons I stuck with the full rather than the little Independent.

The chess column shows tireless interest in the game by Grandmaster Jonathan Speelman. Maybe the e-paper will give him a nice new platform for his daily offering.

Obituaries

Its obituaries by Meic Stephens gave me a link with my school days. Thanks to Meic I was not even the best poet in the village. Don’t know if he will get a chance to write an obituary or a poem in memory of the print Indy.

Not just a Viewspaper…

Viewpaper accusations by Tony Blair were taken on board unashamedly, as the Independent ironically admitted the importance of opinion pieces. Mr Tony was uncomfortable about the paper’s uncompromising stance over Iraq, and several other of his policy decisions.

Great journalism

I’m among the readers who dote on Mark Steel’s brand of satirical commentaries., Robert Fisk’s foreign affairs polemics, and Rupert Cornwall’s effortless demonstrations of his deep insights into politics to match those of his step brother David, aka John le Carre.

What next?

Do I seek out a new morning partner to gaze at over my coffee? These are early days after a heart wrenching loss.